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  1. 1. Protests, riots, social movements, civil wars Why do people participate? Hiba Zerrougui PhD student at McGill, Political Science hiba.zerrougui@mail.mcgill.ca
  2. 2. WHY DO PEOPLE PARTICIPATE? 1. Definition 2. Early explanations: popular mobilization as an irrational phenomenon 3. Political participation as a rational phenomenon a) Instrumental rationality conducive to political participation b) Value rationality conducive to political participation 4. Qualifying political participation: vertical and horizontal networks
  3. 3. DEFINITION: POLITICAL BEHAVIOR Refers to the observable activity of political actors Focus on ordinary people A wide range of political activities: Elections, protests, riots, lootings, rebellions, war, ethnic cleansing, terrorist attacks Analysis at the individual level: Distinction between why collective action occur and why people choose to participate in collective action
  4. 4. EARLY EXPLANATIONS: POPULAR PARTICIPATION AS AN IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOR Crowd theory Origins in nineteenth century Europe Gustave Le Bon, founding father of crowd theory (1896) Role of emotions: collective action as an emotional relief Ordinary peoples political participation framed as the mob, masses or crowd Exerts an irrational, unconscious, and inferior mental influence upon society A degenerate social force: destructive and lead to chaos
  5. 5. EARLY EXPLANATIONS: LEGACY OF THE IRRATIONAL ANGRY MOB In the popular culture An angry mob gathered after burning Christian houses in Lahore, Pakistan, March 9, 2013. A mob of hundreds of people in Lahore attacked a Christian neighborhood after hearing accusations that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam's prophet. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, NYT) In the news The entire town of Springfield transformed into an angry mob makes its way to the Simpson household, seeking revenge for a catastrophe triggered by Homers epic stupidity. (The Simpsons, movie 2007)
  6. 6. EARLY EXPLANATIONS: IMPLICATIONS OF THE IRRATIONAL ANGRY MOB A security discourse when facing public demonstrations Three days before the Tunisian dictator fled to Saudi Arabia, the French foreign minister, Michle Alliot-Marie, outraged liberals and human rights activists by proposing to dispatch French security forces to Tunis to shore up the unpopular regime. (The Guardian, 17 Jan. 2011) Tunisian police and protesters in central Tunis, February 11th 2013 We suggest that the worldwide renowned expertise of our security forces provide a solution to the security issues of this type [in the context of the Arab uprisings]. It is the reason why we suggest that the two countries [Tunisia and Algeria] allow us [] to act so that the right to protests is upheld with security guarantees. Translated from French, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pHO RBsfNR8
  7. 7. A CRITIQUE OF EARLY EXPLANATIONS Pejorative connotation of ordinary peoples collective action Elitist conceptualisation of political participation Perspective of the elite on ordinary peoples participation to politics Disregards history: The crowd has gained credibility as an active and rational agent of historical change, ex: the US civil rights and anti-Vietnam war social movements Treating the crowd as an abstract phenomenon, the same in all contexts Political participation can be explained because it is patterned
  8. 8. POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AS A RATIONAL PHENOMENON: RATIONAL CHOICE APPROACH Rational choice? Conceptualize social phenomena as the result of individual strategic choices Individuals as the basic unit of analysis So: decompose social phenomena into sequences of individual actions Importance of instrumental rationality: Choosing the most efficient means to a desired end Implication: Decision to participate in a collective action is the result of a positive cost- benefit calculus
  9. 9. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION The Logic of Collective Action (Olson, 1965) Collective action? A mean for individuals to access collective good (an end) Collective good? Something that all participants in the group desire and that, by its nature, is inherently shared between all the members of the group. Puzzle: Tension between collective and individual interests in accessing collective good Individual actors perceive the cost of acting individually to access a particular public good as exceeding the benefits of this public good (when they are part of a large group of actors).
  10. 10. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION Why individuals may not act to obtain a collective good? Example: Action against climate change The international community (states) do not want to suffer the consequence of global warming and desire a more stable climate However, states are not necessarily willing to individually take the action necessary to ensure this collective good (stable climate). Incentives to cheat (free-rider problem): Its not possible to exclude actors from benefiting from a public good
  11. 11. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION So then, when do people engage in collective action? When it is made compulsory When high level of social pressure (informal constraints) When people are offered individual incentives. Example: Unions Mandatory membership Incentives (free lunch)
  12. 12. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LIMITS OF THE LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION Voluntary participation in big groups is irrational The individual costs are higher than the payoffs But then: Where all these unions come from if nobody at the first place wanted to freely participate in them ? How can we explain the emergence of the state? Limit: Does not account for collective action emergence, but only for political participation in the context of collective actions perpetuation
  13. 13. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LOGIC OF GROUP CONFLICT One for All: The Logic of Group Conflict, Hardin (1995) Historical context Ethnic violence and nationalist movements, which have been as irrational. Addresses the motivations of individuals involved in particular types of collective action Involving alter group and conflict Instances where a group seeks collectively a benefit that can only be reached through the suppression of other groups interests.
  14. 14. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LOGIC OF GROUP CONFLICT In this context, collective action is explained by two mechanisms: (1) Individuals identification to a group the fact to be subjectively committed to a group rather than to share characteristics of a group Because their self-interest can successfully be matched with group interests (2) Individuals act on behalf of a group through a game of coordination: My joining in a coordination of group X contributes to the power of group X, thereby increasing the likelihood of the groups gaining its objectives, which will benefit me along with all the other members of X.
  15. 15. RATIONAL CHOICE: THE LOGIC OF GROUP CONFLICT Example: Genocide in Rwanda Two alter groups: Hutu and Tutsi Seeking a public good: control of the state In a context of group competition: exclusionary political projects So, people had interests in identifying with one particular ethnic group Coordination game: The more individuals participate, the more likely their group has a chance in accessing to the public good they are seeking and the less likely the other group will be able to exclude their group from it.
  16. 16. VALUE RATIONALITY: EXPLAINING NATIONALISM, SELF- IMMOLATION, ETHNIC CONFLICTS Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Rationality Varshneys (2003) puzzle: To explain participation in seemingly irrational behavior When individuals persist in their engagement for a cause even when the costs are higher than the benefit. So that instrumental rationality is not enough to account for certain behavior Cases: struggles for self-determination and particular actions such as self-immolation, suicide bombers, etc. In June of 1963, Vietnamese Buddhist monk immolation in Saigon in response to the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnams catholic regime. Photo: AP
  17. 17. VALUE RATIONALITY: EXPLAINING NATIONALISM, SELF- IMMOLATION, ETHNIC CONFLICTS Main argument: Importance of value rationality: Action which is taken because of the intrinsic value of the action itself, regardless of its consequences Involve great personal sacrifices Value-rationality provides the micro- foundations of the conflict: To mobilize on the basis of an identity While conflicts evolution relies on the use of instrumental rationality: coalition building, strategies, etc. Value vs instrumental rationality illustrated.
  18. 18. QUALIFYING POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: A SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACH TO POLITICAL BEHAVIOR Qualifying political participation? It is not enough to consider why people participate, but also under which conditions they participate So to understand their varying level of commitment Mobilization is made through social networks and these networks color the evolution of a collective action Political participation in a collective action is not random Individuals are connected with each other through different types social networks Distinction between horizontal and vertical networks
  19. 19. HORIZONTAL SOCIAL NETWORKS Collective action is usually thought to be composed of individuals tied through horizontal social networks: It follows specific lines of social categorization and organization such as ethnicity, gender, or class. Tend to be homogeneous Implication: collective action relying on the participation of individuals along horizontal lines regroups like-minded individuals But other scholars have argued that collective action can be the result of more complex dynamics
  20. 20. VERTICAL SOCIAL NETWORKS But collective action can also be the result of the mobilization of vertical ties: D