Author Archives: Will H. Moore

About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo

The Rashomon Effect in Three Headlines/Stories

We are familiar with framing effects, and aware that different news media use headlines and content to frame stories differently.  Christian Davenport recently explored the issue in some depth in his 2010 book.  Over the weekend a very nice illustration of this problem unfolded with respect to the Standing Rock (Sioux) Tribe’s #NoDAPL protests against the North Dakota Access Pipe Line being built by Energy Transfer Partners with the support of the US Army Corps of Engineers North Dakota.

Writing for the Associated Press, James MacPherson (@MacPhersonJA) used the “balanced and objective” passive voice construction so prized by the Western news outlets that grew dominant during the mid 20th Century.  Here is an image of his story published by ABC News.


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Pegida Protests Podcast Illustrates Concepts & Processes

In a recent podcast, Germany, Islam & The New Right, BBC Radio 4 explores the remarkable rise of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Pegida) in Dresden, Germany (see here and here).  A local political scientist interviewed in the podcast explains that Americans should think of Pegida as the Tea Party, Brits as the BNP,[1] and the French as the National Front.

What interests me is the extent to which the podcast illustrates a number of concepts and processes I teach my students.  Pegida’s Monday protests echo those begun in Leipzig in 1989, which spread to many East German cities, including Dresden. Thus, Tilly’s “repertoires” are nicely illustrated.[2]  Informational theories of mobilization are also illustrated: the public display of opinions that are considered verboeten by political rulers makes others who hold such views more willing to air them in public, which creates a bandwagon among those who hold such views, but have different thresholds for taking the risk of being singled out and shamed or otherwise punished.[3]  Finally, Loewen’s argument about mono-cultures (highly homogenous ethnic communities) being most likely to vilify “the other” is borne out during the podcast.[4]

Finally, if you enjoy irony, that is yet another reason to check out the podcast.[5]


Cross posted at Will Opines.

[1] A Pegida UK branch launched last month.

[2] From Mobilization to Revolution, 1978.

[3] For examples, see Suzanne Lohmann “The Dynamics of Informational Cascades: The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig, East Germany, 1989–91,” 1994 (ungated PDF here) and Timur Kuran “Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution,” 1989 (ungated PDF here).

[4] Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, 2006.  This is a variant of the contact hypothesis.  See, also, Keith E. Schnakenberg “Group Identity and Symbolic Political Behavior,” Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2014. Ungated at SSRN.

[5] The reporter, who clearly finds Pegida’s view unpalatable, is blissfully unaware of the information theories in [3].

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Review of Rise of the Warrior Cop

Radley, Balko. 2013. Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. Public Affairs.

Radley, Balko. 2013. Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. Public Affairs.

For the past several years the month of May has borne witness to The Purple Hatter’s Ball, a music festival at Suwanee River State Park, FL, that celebrates the life of Rachel Hoffman.  Rachel is a relatively well known victim of the USA’s “war on drugs.”[1]  She was murdered in May, 2008 on a rural road in Tallahassee, FL by two young men who were not drug dealers, but had nonetheless been approached by Rachel because a friend had told her they could sell her $13,000 worth of drugs and guns.  The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) had used a minor marijuana possession charge to pressure Rachel–who used, but did not sell drugs–to participate in this “sting” operation, and on that night in May she had $13,000 of U.S. taxpayer money in her possession.  Her communication with the TPD’s officers running the sting failed, and the teenagers who had made no attempt to obtain either the drugs or guns they told Rachel they could provide her ended up shooting her, taking the money, and escaping (they were eventually arrested, several days later, as they began spending the cash).  In short, the TPD created a drug buyer who did not exist, allowed her to locate drug dealers who weren’t, botched the electronics, and one person died while two petty teenage criminals became murderers, generating grieving and loss across three families, along with hundreds of friends.[2] Continue reading

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Might a Global Events Dataset Contribute to Social Movements Research?

Alex Hanna has a recent post over at Bad Hessian about the potential value of a newly released dataset, GDELT, for the study of social movements.  GDELT stands for Global Data on Events, Location and Tone, and is a news-based events data base covering  the globe for the years 1979-2012.  It is in its beta release,  and will eventually be updated regularly on a near real time basis.  One of many cool things about today’s research environment is that though GDELT has been online for less than two months, one can already find R and python code to assist one’s exploration of it (e.g., see here, here, and here). Continue reading

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Military Recruitment, Casualties, and Public Opinion

International Studies Quarterly just published Yagil Levy‘s most recent work on the reshaping of military conflict due to democracy, technology, and now protest.  I have posted elsewhere about his work on casualty aversion due to the intersection of democracy and technology (and also on related work by Jonathan Caverley).  This piece, titled “How Military Recruitment Affects Collective Action and its Outcomes” [gated] explores the impact of military recruitment on a public’s willingness to “absorb” casualties among its soldiers during military conflict.  In other words, Levy wants to know the extent to which recruitment impacts the collective action opportunities of those who would (de)mobilize public opinion in democracies regarding casualties, and thereby support for the war. Continue reading


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Upsetting Rape Culture’s Victoria’s Secret Campaign

PINK-LOVES-CONSENTYou may have caught wind of the dust-up the group Upsetting Rape Culture produced when they launched a slick social media campaign they called Pink Loves Consent.  The goal of the campaign was to generate discussion about consent in sexual relations among teens and young adults, who are the target demographic of Victoria’s Secret’s Pink product line and marketing campaign.  Mobilizing Ideas has commented on a number of aspects of social media mobilization (see herehere, and here), and readers who have an interest in this topic will want to read about this campaign.

Among many others, Jezebel and Erica Cheung, over at HuffPo, both blogged about it (see here and here), but I especially encourage you to read this online interview Upsetting Rape Culture activists Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle over at Baltimore Fish Bowl.

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A View from 1967

Last week Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick’s post drew our attention to news of India’s National Human Rights Commission calling out a local government for its remarkable decision to order  protesters to seek professional counselling.  Over at my own blog I focused on the positive lesson I drew from the Commission’s action.  For wholly unrelated reasons, Rich Fording today emailed me a US Federal Bureau of Investigation memo from 1967 that puts the story from India in a US historical context.  It warns of “a strong possibility of outbreaks of riots and lawless demonstrations during the coming months.”

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