Students in the streets: Education and nonviolent protest

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Dahlum, Sirianne (2019) Students in the streets: Education and nonviolent protest, Comparative Political Studies 52(2): 277–309.
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​This study investigates whether protest movements consisting of students and educated protesters are more likely to (a) use nonviolent rather than violent resistance and (b) successfully reach their goals. Extant literature suggests that education is negatively linked to violent conflict, and the commonly assumed mechanism is that educated groups are less likely to resort to violence. Moreover, many argue that education is a force for regime change and democratization, by inducing successful protest movements. This article is the first to systematically test implications of these mechanisms at the protest level. The empirical analysis builds on original data on the educational background of participants in all protest campaigns aiming for regime change from 1900 to 2006 identified in the Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes Dataset 1.0. I find robust evidence that protest movements with a high degree of involvement by students and graduates are more likely to turn nonviolent. Moreover, there is some (although weaker) evidence that these movements are more likely to achieve their goals, but only due to their nonviolent dispositions. This adds to the literature explaining why some movements resort to nonviolence (and succeed), by establishing that the identity and socioeconomic background of protesters matter.

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Sirianne Dahlum

Sirianne Dahlum

Senior Researcher