Tag Archives: texting

The Whole World is Texting

by Heidi Reynolds-Stenson and Jennifer Earl

How repression impacts mobilization, and specifically why repression is effective at deterring protest in some cases and not others, is a perennial question among repression scholars. Studies have found markedly different results: some research suggests that repression can be effective in discouraging participation or otherwise quelling protest but other findings demonstrate that repression can “backfire,” escalating mobilization and/or galvanizing commitment. Classic work by Barkan, for instance, showed that violent repression, in particular, might galvanize bystanders and lead to movement victories where failure would have otherwise been likely. We argue that recent unrest in Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine can be read as contemporary evidence of backfire. At the very least, these are stories in which state repression failed to quell protest. After providing some quick evidence on this point, we consider a larger theoretical question raised by these recent events: might digital media use be affecting the underlying likelihood of backlash? Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Violent State Repression