May 2016

Banners, Barricades, and Bombs: How Social Movements Affect Public Opinion

Protest, Plaza del Sol, Madrid

It’s an argument we’ve heard before: governments should not negotiate with terrorist organizations that engage in violent activity. This idea is pervasive throughout the academic and policy worlds, but what about public opinion? Do citizens think the government should shun social movements that adopt extreme tactics often associated with terrorist organizations?

Social protest takes various forms, and organized social movements have various intentions—from benign disruption to purposeful violence. In their forthcoming paper for Comparative Political Studies, Connor Huff and Dominika Kruszewska look at how the tactical choices of social movements affect public opinion about whether or not—and to what degree—governments should negotiate with social movements.1