The United States has seen a surge in street protests since President Donald Trump’s election nearly three years ago, but current methods for studying this form of social activism are struggling to keep pace, sociology Professor Dana Fisher argues in a paper published yesterday in Sciences Advances.
For example, Fisher and colleagues write, the frequency and widening geographic scope of recent protests throughout the country makes it difficult to gather event data and conduct crowd surveys for demonstrations happening simultaneously in different regions and cities. The paper also advocates for adding in-depth interviews and ethnography to current forms of protest research in order to provide a more complete portrait of the state of protest and activism in America.
Fisher’s co-authors on the Science Advances paper include Kenneth Andrews and Neal Caren from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Erica Chenoweth from Harvard University; Michael Heaney from the University of Glasgow in Scotland; Jeremy Pressman from the University of Connecticut; and independent scholars Tommy Leung and Nathan Perkins.
“If scholars are to understand the meaning of these events for politics, greater collective effort is needed to scale up and standardize the way we study them,” said Fisher, whose book, “American Resistance: From the Women’s March to the Blue Wave,” is due out next month.
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