Protest Research at Its Limits: Surveying Right Wing Movements

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Piotr KOCYBA, Technische Universiteat Chemnitz, Germany
PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) is a perfect example for the limits for protest surveying on right wing movements. In the autumn of 2014 PEGIDA caused perplexity: The German public, politicians, and the scientific community were simply surprised by how quickly a (radical) right-wing protest movement had evolved, demonstrating it’s xenophobic and anti-elite attitudes in a public space on each Monday. After all, PEGIDAs mobilization was stunning: With only 350 protesters at the first demonstration (20th October 2014) the number of participants nearly doubled each week – with a peak on 12th January 2015 at – according to the police – 25.000 demonstrators (our team counted 17.000 participants). And even though the numbers declined PEGIDA’s persistence is remarkable: Even today PEGIDA mobilizes up to 3.000 supporters for their weekly events.

PEGIDA’s considerable power of mobilization coupled with its embrace of behaviors that are considered taboo in Germany (xenophobic slogans, rejection of media etc.) got the attention of the press, who formulated assumptions about the motives and the composition of the demonstrators. This situation called for protest researchers. Therefore different scholars conducted surveys at PEGIDA demonstrations. Until now five different teams have collected data in the field on ten occasions in total. This makes PEGIDA likely the most closely investigated protest movement in Germany. The aim of the submitted presentation is to give an insight into the (limits of the) different methodological approaches of protest-surveying on right wing demonstrations and to develop some ideas in overcoming them.