Cascades of Protest and the Rise of Social Media: Managing Opposition in the Information Age Open Access

Bridwell, Jana Marie (2015)

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This project examines the political implications of new media technology for non-democratic regimes, and in particular for the competition between an incumbent and domestic opposition actors. I argue that access to the tools provided by cell phones and the Internet alters the existing structure of protest risk for incumbents, while also providing opposition actors with new mobilizational tools. Incumbents manage the new content available through social media with information control policies that address the changed risks entailed by social media, and which must be sensitive to regimes' existing competitive institutions. This model of protest also has implications for how opposition actors organize protest relative to highly publicized focal events such as national elections.

Table of Contents

Cascades of Protest and the Rise of Social Media: Managing Opposition in the Information Age (An Introduction) ... 5p.

  • References (pp. 5-6)

Net Gain? Social Media and Citizen Activism in Non-Democracies ... 31p.

  • Introduction
  • Mobilization and Citizen Empowerment
    • Barriers to Mobilization
  • The Political Relevance of Social Media
    • Skepticism About Social Media
  • The Context-Dependency of Social Media's Effects
    • Implications
  • Empirical Analysis
    • Data
    • Model Selection
  • Results
    • Diverging Predictions for Social Media Technologies
    • Critiques and Alternate Modeling Choices
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix: Sample Nations; References (pp. 31-38)

The Wrong Kind of Protest: Social Media from the View of the Authoritarian ... 38p.

  • Avoiding Protest Cascades
    • A Model of Cascade Development
    • Structural Risk Factors
  • Strategic Risk Factors
    • Cascade Costs and Frontrunners
  • Regime Response: Information Control
    • Choosing How Extensively to Control
    • Choosing What Type of Control
  • Social Media: Disrupting Patterns of Politics
    • Public Content Production: A Challenge for Private Censorship
    • Implications
  • Empirical Analysis
  • Explaining the Extent of Social Media Control
    • Analysis
    • The Impact of Strategic Factors: Frontrunners
  • Explaining the Type of Social Media Control
    • Key Variables
    • Analysis
    • Exceptions and Robustness Checks
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices; References (pp. 39-58)
    • Samples
    • Measuring Social Media Control
    • Frontrunner Status for All Sample Countries

Opposition Strategy and Patterns of Protest in Non-Democracies ... 31p.

  • Protest Cascades
    • The Costs of Cascades
    • The Strategy of Cascades
  • Implications
  • Data
    • Distinguishing Front-Running Organizations
    • Election Versus Non-Election Years
    • Dependent Variable: Cascade Attempts via Mass Protest
    • Model Selection
  • Analysis
    • Parsing Out the Effects of Elections Versus Frontrunners
    • Could Protest Create Frontrunners?
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix: Coding Frontrunners In Special Circumstances: Insurgencies, Electoral Coalitions, and Transfers of Power; References (pp. 32-38)

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