Caught in the Act of Protest

Project Description

This project attempts to find answers to the questions of who participates in protest, for what reason, and how they are mobilised. As the motivational dynamics of different forms of participation vary, we chose to focus on one particular type of protest, namely, protest demonstrations. The decision to take part in a protest demonstration is not taken in isolation but within a wider social and political context. We will investigate the impact of contextual variation on the dynamics of protest by comparing demonstrations in different countries and mobilizing contexts. Studies of protest behavior typically focus on a single protest event, which takes contextual variation out. Instead, we will develop comparative designs that enable us to study the influence of the national and mobilizing context. To that end we have developed a common theoretical framework, standardized measures, and techniques of sampling and data collection.

To know more: Project proposal, SNSF Research Database

Project website:


Team Information



Protest survey data including samples of participants in protest demonstrations. This method consists in studying and surveying protesters caught in the act of protesting in the field rather than by asking them about their past or potential participation in general population surveys. Between 2009 and 2012 each collaborating team collected data on at least eight demonstrations on a broad variety of issues. Each national team used the same core questionnaire, containing a fixed set of questions in a fixed sequence as agreed upon by all teams. However, each team has the opportunity to include an individual module including questions of their own interest.

Spatial Coverage: Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Time Method: Cross-section

Analysis Unit: Individuals

Universe: Participants in protest demostrations

Mode of Data Collection: Postal interviews (handed out at demonstrations), face-to-tace interviews (subsample)

Sampling Description: The data on protesters were collected employing two techniques which aimed to obtain a random sample of demonstrators attending a given demonstration. The first technique aims to guarantee that every protester in the area where the protest event takes place has an equal chance of being selected by one of the interviewers with the request to fill in a postal survey. First, the size of the protest is estimated allowing pointers – or expert team leaders – to calculate the number of rows that should be skipped to cover the entire protest. Second, pointers select the individual that each interviewer should interview, minimizing bias since interviewers were found to be more likely to approach subjects similar to themselves in previous studies. In this way, interviewers are sent out every nth number of rows to conduct a face-to-face survey and/or hand out a postal survey to a specific protester. The second technique is a device to control for non-response. In addition to the postal survey, short face-to-face interviews were conducted with every 1 in 5 interviewees prior to handing out the survey.

Data Collection Instruments: Manual data collection

Further Documentation: Data codebook, Adaptations document

How to Get the Data? 

How to Cite?  Klandermans, prof. dr. P.G. (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Van Stekelenburg, dr. J.; Gaidyte, Dr. T. (2014): Caught in the act of protest: CCC-project. DANS.


Selected Publications

  • Giugni, Marco; Grasso Maria T. (eds.). 2015. Austerity and Protest: Popular Contention in Times of Economic Crisis. Farnham: Ashgate. 
  • Giugni, Marco, Grasso, Maria T. 2019. Street Citizens: Protest Politics and Social Movement Activism in the Age of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.