How do crises paralyze and activate? The impact of dissatisfaction on European patterns of participation

Anders Ejrnæs*, Silas Harrebye

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This study examines recent developments and variations in extra-parliamentary activities–such as signing petitions, displayingpolitical support, demonstrating, and boycotting products across15 European countries. Usingfixed effects regression analysis toinvestigate data from the European Social Survey, rounds 1–8(2002–2016), wefind that patterns of participation havesignificantly changed over time. We draw on theories on howparticipation is fundamentally motivated by feelings ofdissatisfaction, including grievance theory and the civic voluntarymodel. Our study’s results include twofindings of particularsignificance. First, in the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008,there was a perceptible increase in protest participation, but witha striking delay effect. Second, we identified an engagement gapas we show that in times of crisis the gap between satisfied anddissatisfied citizens widens, in terms of who actively participates.Further to thesefindings, we conclude that James C. Davies’J-curve hypothesis concerning collective revolutionary response,needs revision, and we posit a synthesis of critical and moreoptimistic perspectives regarding the democratic impact thatcrises can have on our democratic participation.
Tidsskrift European Politics and Society
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)597-616
Antal sider20
StatusUdgivet - 2022


  • Democracy
  • activism
  • crisis
  • dissatisfaction
  • movement
  • participation

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