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Supporting Protests: The Effect of Disobedient Group’s Status and Disobedient Groups’ Requests.

Stefano Passini
Università di Bologna
Davide Morselli
Université de Lausanne
Davide Morselli
Université de Lausanne
Stefano Passini
Università di Bologna
Open Panel

Abstract

Almost everyday, media talk about the arise of some new movement of protest and about signatures collections to support new politics or social groups. These protests become relevant or just disappear due to the more or less support that they receive from the population. But why do people support a protest in some cases and not in others? What elements do people consider in deciding whether to join an online petition for a cause? By integrating the tripolar model proposed by Mugny (1982) with Kelman and Hamilton’s (1989) theory on legitimacy, in this study we consider the issue of legitimacy concerning disobedient groups. Indeed, two legitimacy can be identified: (1) the legitimacy of the group – i.e., disobedient groups may be perceived as victims or threats and this exerts a different influence on population’s support (see Moscovici & Perez, 2007); (2 ) the legitimacy of disobedient groups’ requests – i.e., their requests may support a social change enacted for the sake of every social group or achieve specific and restricted rights. The question is whether supporting or ignoring disobedient groups’ request depends on the legitimacy of the request claimed or on the perceived legitimacy of that group. Results show that in general participants support more the protest of the victimized than the threatening group, while no difference emerges from what concern the request’s legitimacy. However, value-oriented citizens (i.e., people attaching importance to the universal values of justice and equality) tend to accept more the inclusive than the exclusive group’s request.