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Towards a conceptualization of casual protest participation: Parsing a case from the Save Roşia Montană campaign

Mercea, D. (2014). Towards a conceptualization of casual protest participation: Parsing a case from the Save Roşia Montană campaign. East European Politics and Societies, 28(2), pp. 386-410. doi: 10.1177/0888325413519672


There is currently an empirical gap in the literature on protest participation in liberal democracies which has overwhelmingly focused on Western Europe and North America at the expense of Eastern Europe. To contribute to closing that gap, this article reviews findings from a multi-method field study conducted at FânFest, the environmental protest festival designed to boost participation in Save Roşia Montană, the most prominent environmental campaign in Romania. By contrast to its Western counterparts, Romania has seen markedly lower levels of involvement in voluntary organizations that are a key setting for mobilization into collective action. Concurrently, experience with participation in physical protests is limited amongst Romanians. Specifically, the article probes recent indications that social network sites provide new impetus to protest participation as an instrumental means of mobilization. Dwelling on a distinction between experienced and newcomers to protest, results indicate that social network site usage may make possible the casual participation of individuals with prior protest experience who are not activists in a voluntary organization. Whilst this finding may signal a new participatory mode hinging on digitally networked communication which is beginning to be theorized, it confounds expectations pertaining to a net contribution of social network site usage to the participation of newcomers to protest.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: protest, participation, social network sites, mobilization, collective identity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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