Contentious Activities, Disrespectful Protesters: Effect of Protest Context on Protest Support and Mobilization Across Ideology and Authoritarianism

  • Raynee Sarah GuttingEmail author
Original Paper


Protest is a tool more often wielded by the political left than right. Somewhat surprisingly, there has been little careful investigation of this asymmetry to date. I show that by examining how the protest context interacts with individual-level differences in ideology and authoritarianism, we gain insight into the protest asymmetry and the dynamics of public protest support and mobilization potential. Using an experimental design, I find that contentious protests and protesters that are disrespectful of police reduce public support, and that liberals and conservatives, and nonauthoritarians and authoritarians, are affected by the protest context in different ways. In my study, conservatives were found to be less supportive than liberals of protests that were disrespectful of police and were demobilized by violent protests. For authoritarians, however, violence did not decrease their support or mobilization. Rather, what decreased support and mobilization among authoritarians were protests that were disrespectful of authorities.


Protest Ideology Authoritarianism Mobilization 



I would first and foremost like to thank Leonie Huddy for her guidance on this project. I am also grateful to Patrick Lown and colleagues from Stony Brook University and the University of Essex for their feedback on earlier drafts of this article. I would also like to thank Gelly for her ever-present support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11109_2018_9523_MOESM1_ESM.docx (638 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 637 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government, Essex Pathways DepartmentUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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