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The widespread opposition to unprecedented austerity measures in Greece provides a unique opportunity to study the causes of mass protest. A new study funded by the British Academy analyses the results of a survey of the adult population in which two-thirds of the respondents supported protest and 29 per cent reported actual involvement in strikes and/or demonstrations during 2010.
The article, 'Who Protests in Greece? Mass Opposition to Austerity', published in the British Journal of Political Science, examines to what extent the economic circumstances of the austerity crisis or the political context of a highly developed protest culture are the primary drivers of anti-austerity protest in Greece. It finds that relative deprivation plays an important role in defining protest potential, but socialisation into taking particular forms of political action through prior protest involvement is an essential component of explaining who actually protests. The article compares the results from Greece with those of other countries facing similar challenges and discusses their implications for the future of austerity politics.
A seperate article published in Mobilization: An International Journal, explores the question to what extent the protests are just mobilizing the ‘usual suspects’ of left-wing trade union activists or a new protest generation. Results show that less than one in five participants in anti-austerity protests had been first time protesters. The article argues that the Greek protest movement has re-mobilized many of the ‘usual suspects’ but it also includes first timers as ‘apprentice’ protesters, particularly in demonstrations, who differ markedly from veteran participants.