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Individual Anti-Government Protest Behavior in Autocracies

Fri, September 1, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Union Square, Golden Gate 4

Abstract

Although the measurement of individual propensity to participate in anti-government protests in autocracies is strategically consequential for both the government and the opposition, its prediction by scholars remains a challenging task. Individual responses about intention to participate in anti-government protests can be vastly polluted by measurement error, namely social desirability bias, preventing respondents from openly revealing their preferences. Amplifying this problem is the fact that individuals tend to condition their own participation in protests on the perceived magnitude. Our research attempts to bypass these problems by offering a set of list experiments adopted to the study of protests, preserving full anonymity for the respondent. The use of two experiments allows us to manipulate the size of the protests the respondents are exposed to. Together, these factors mitigate social desirability bias. A set of auxiliary follow-up questions helps us to measure the contributions an individual is willing to make when deciding to participate in the anti-government protest. The empirical data analysis is based on the data sample collected by VCIOM, a national polling agency in Russia, in Winter 2016.

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