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Alliance Formation and Mass Mobilization under Repression

Sun, September 1, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hilton, DuPont


How does public mobilization emerge and consolidate into a mass movement? How does state repression condition sustained and large-scale protest? This paper argues that mass mobilization emerges through a process of alliance formation. Without alliances mass mobilization is not possible because there is usually no single group in society with the convening power to rally hundreds of thousands or millions of people. There are two main competing considerations for any civil society group confronted with the choice to form or join an alliance. The first is reducing the probability of suffering violent repression and the second is achieving political success. Therefore, a reduction in violent repression allows civil society organizations to forge alliances, making mass mobilization more likely. This paper tests these propositions in the case of Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, 1973-1990 by leveraging a novel time-series dataset on all attempts to mobilize against the regime in the most populated state in Chile, the Metropolitan Region. Specifically, the paper examines yearly changes in alliances between hundreds of opposition groups, as well as changes in the level of state repression perpetrated against each dissident organization. By including small and large opposition groups, as well as successful and failed attempts to mobilize, this work seeks to overcome the bias in the literature of observing a truncated sample of mobilization and repression.