Spontaneous Collective Action: Peripheral Mobilization During the Arab Spring

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Wide shot of immensely large crowd of people marching in protest

The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA

Speaker: Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld

Who is responsible for protest mobilization? Models of disease and information diffusion suggest that those central to a social network (the core) should have a greater ability to mobilize others than those who are less well-connected.  To the contrary, Steinert-Threlkeld argues that those not central to a network (the periphery) can generate collective action, especially in the context of large-scale protests in authoritarian regimes.  

To investigate, Steinert-Threlkeld developed a dataset of daily protests across across 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa over 14 months from 2010 through 2011.  He combined that dataset with geocoded, individual-level communication from the same period and measured the number of connections of each person.  Those on the periphery were shown to be responsible for changing levels of protest, with some evidence suggesting that the core's mobilization efforts lead to fewer protests.  Steinert-Threlkeld contends that these results have implications for a wide range of social choices that rely on interdependent decision making. 

Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld is an assistant professor of public policy at UCLA.

Additional Information

Light refreshments will be served. Parking on campus is $12 per vehicle.