This is What Democracy [codes] Like

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be holding a major summit in Chicago later this month. Where NATO goes, protest follows, and federal and city officials are apparently preparing for it.

But they aren’t the only ones. Social movement scholars are gearing up as well. Will H. Moore (Professor of Political Science at Florida State) and Christian Davenport (Professor of Peace Studies, Political Science, and Sociology at Notre Dame) are putting together a neat study of what the NATO summit protests and policing will look like. And they really mean what all of the protest and policing will look like–not just the big signs or lines of riot police or burning trash cans that typically end up on the evening news and the covers of newspapers. The basic plan is to train a set of observers who will watch a delimited area and record what they see at regular intervals. This will give them a fuller picture of what really goes on during the protests, apart from just the flashiest stuff that we’ll all see on the news. Here’s a screenshot from a Prezi presentation they’ve put together illustrating the approach:

Of course, executing a research plan like this takes a lot of trained observers–and they’re in the process of recruiting some now. If you are an undergraduate student interested in social movements and who might be available to be in Chicago for the summit, check out the full presentation (don’t worry; it’s short); the contact information for Professors Moore and Davenport is at the end. If you know undergraduates who might be interested and available, spread the word! (Here’s a Tiny URL good for sharing:


Filed under Daily Disruption

6 responses to “This is What Democracy [codes] Like

  1. Pingback: Black and Blue vs. Whites and their Crew | Mobilizing Ideas

  2. Kathy Powers

    Dear Christian and Will,

    I think this is a great project. I read the above article and watched the presentation. I think you are right that it speaks to democracy, protests and policing.

    I do have one question. You divide a protest into sections. People move about during a section. So, you are not tracking people but the activity in that section, right? What if the geographic characteristics of a protest dramatically change with violence. What if the section disappears, reappears or moves in the chaos? Curious. I participated in the protests against the invasion of Iraq in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn’t vey violent but as the police kept pushing us, the geographic spread of the protesters changed throughout. I guess I’m not clear on what constitutes a “section.” Is it these four blocks of a side walk and the activity within it?

    If I can help with this project in anyway, please let me know. I think it is very important.

    Kathy Powers
    University of New Mexico


  3. Matthew Baggetta

    Kathy: Christian and Will just posted their first thoughts about the NATO protest project today. Check out Christian’s post here: I’ll pass your questions directly on to them as well.


  4. willhmoore

    Kathy: these are great questions, but they raise dragons we have yet to slay. We have a number of issues we hope to be able to address with the project. The grid builds on Clark McPhail’s work (check Scholar Google), and the idea is to capture what is happening in fixed spatial-temporal units (e.g., country-year). The idea is to augment what is reported in newspapers, which treat a protest as a single event.

    Collecting the grid data that Matt described here is only one portion of the “street” data collection: we also collected police deployment and movement, and in addition to the “street” data we are collecting news, blogs and tweets. In the next iteration we plan to add interview/survey data collection of protesters and police if labor permits (non-representative sampling). We will post much more about the project on a site to be unveiled later this summer.


  5. Pingback: Studying The Public Response to Police & Protesters | Mobilizing Ideas

  6. Pingback: Will Opines

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