The literature on post-communist politics generally points out a stark contrast between the effervescence of social movements that led to the collapse of the communist regimes and the relative apathy of citizens after the establishment of democracy in Eastern Europe. However, in recent years new waves of protests have emerged in the region, ranging from mass demonstrations to organized strikes and riots. The spread of elite-challenging activities suggests a revival of protest politics in former communist countries during the current economic crisis. This study comparatively examines the dynamics and the determinants of different forms of lawful and unlawful protest activities in South-Eastern Europe. Drawing on theoretical insights derived from the political behavior and social movements literatures (i.e. theories of societal modernization, grievances, political-efficacy, social identity theory, social embeddedness and mobilization, as well as theories of group-based emotions) the discussion focuses on the profile of different types of protesters, their elite-challenging action repertoire, and also the factors that can account for their preference for certain forms of protest actions versus others.
Marius Ioan Tatar is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oradea, Department of Political Science and Communication Studies. Currently he is a Robert Bosch Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.
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