Politicologenetmaal edition:12 location:Ghent date:30-31 May 2013
Contentious politics are on the rise, which urges us to question why ever more people decide to participate in them. Therefore, in this paper we bring an analysis of what makes protesters perceive their efforts as effective, and how this relates to the frequency of their participation. In doing so, we build on Klandermans’ value-expectancy theory, which holds that individuals are more likely to participate in protest if they perceive the effort of doing so as reasonably effective. In particular we analyze how perceiving politicians and public opinion as responsive to a particular political protest affects a protester’s estimation of the likelihood the protest will have its intended impact, and how this relates to the activist’s protest frequency. To do so, we present a case-study of the worldwide upsurge of demonstrations against the upcoming war against Iraq on February 15, 2003. Drawing on a survey of 5,572 participants in eight countries we demonstrate that both perceiving public opinion and perceiving politicians as responsive has a positive effect on a protesters’ perception of the protest’s effectiveness. As to how the former relates to participants’ protest frequency we find only limited evidence.