Mega-protests meet Big Data

Mega-protests meet Big Data

Michael Shalev
Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC - Vendredi 13 mai 2016
  • Photo Ishai Parasol - The Israeli social democrat protest (08/2011) - CC BY-SAPhoto Ishai Parasol - The Israeli social democrat protest (08/2011) - CC BY-SA

Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC 2015-2016

98, rue de l'Université 75007 Paris - salle Annick Percheron

vendredi 13 mai 2016 de 11h30 à 13h

Mega-protests meet Big Data

When mobile phones are switched on their location is continuously recorded by the antennas of their cellular network. Without violating individual privacy, this big data can be aggregated by localities of residence for which socioeconomic and other contextual data are available. This makes it possible to accurately estimate both the number of persons present at a given time and place, and their distribution across residential localities or types of localities. Our research is one of the few investigations by social scientists that is based on this new type of behavioral data, and it is the first to exploit the potential for studying mass collective action.
The context for our study is the wave of mega-protests that swept the Middle East and Southern Europe in 2011. Specifically, we analyze participation in a series of mass demonstrations in Israel during the summer of 2011, in which nearly one quarter of the non-elderly adult population claimed to have participated. In addition to overcoming limitations of small sample surveys and self-reported data, our research makes it possible to probe who participated in street demonstrations held at different times and venues. This is critical for addressing the theoretical puzzle posed by the appearance of broadly-based protests in societies riven by politicized social cleavages. Our evidence shows that in Israel social sectors alienated from the class, cultural and ethnic identities of the protest core generally refrained from active participation. Nevertheless, a notable degree of social and political encompassingness was achieved thanks to two mechanisms. First, in some residential communities oppositional identities were muted by ethnic pluralism and shared membership in the broad middle class. Second, participation of alienated sectors was facilitated when their mobilization was temporally or spatially segmented from the activity of sectors associated with the protest core.

This research topic is carried out by Assaf Rotman and Michael Shalev.

Michael ShalevMichael Shalev, Departement of Sociology
Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Israël)

Papers - Taub Center (Welfare Policy Program Fellow)

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