What Protests Can (And Can’t) Do

“protests, at their most basic level, raise awareness about issues that might not yet be in the mainstream. This might not sound all that important, but research by political scientist Deva Woodly of The New School shows that protest movements can fundamentally alter the way we talk — and think — about a specific issue.” 

“There does seem to be some consensus in the literature that many protests are successful in spurring institutional change, at least at the federal level.”

“though protests may often be thought of as a last resort, they can also have important downstream consequences for elections. Wasow’s work and my own research shows that large, peaceful protests during the civil rights movement actually helped Democratic presidential candidates — a finding that Gillion and Stanford’s Sarah Soule have observed in more recent protests as well.

But of course, as we also know from Wasow’s research, protests can have unintended consequences”


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