Protest Motivation in an Economic Crisis: The Role Relative Deprivation in the Icelandic “Pots and Pans Revolution”

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Jon Gunnar BERNBURG, The University of Iceland, Iceland
The recent wave of protest associated with the global financial crisis provides an opportunity to address under-studied theories about the link between economic crisis and participation of citizens in political protest and other forms of political contention—in the context of affluent democratic society. I use the opportunity and study the predictors of individual participation in one of the first large-scale demonstrations that the crisis triggered, namely, the “Pots and Pans” demonstrations in Iceland, in January 2009. Here I use a survey representing the adult population of the Reykjavík area (N = 610) to examine the effects of perceived economic loss on protest participation and support. I find that perceived economic loss predicts both protest participation and support, but only if individuals believe their losses to be greater than the losses of others. These interaction effects hold while controlling for the political beliefs and allegiances of individuals, and their social, economic, and demographic positions. The study indicates that in times of crisis the process of relative deprivation may motivate a part of the population to take participate in protest. But while relative deprivation is an important process motivating some individuals to participate, although the major actors organizing protest events and performances are motivated by their political beliefs, allegiances, and identities.