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Favoring the Individual Case over Policy Change. Mobilizing Emotions in Austrian Anti-Deportation Protests

Contentious Politics
Political Participation
Social Movements
Sieglinde Rosenberger
University of Vienna
Verena Stern
University of Bielefeld
Nina Merhaut
University of Vienna

In several European countries, people have mobilized and taken to the streets to protest the forced expulsion of non-citizens. Their claims and aims are contextual and manifold, and range from the prevention of one specific deportation to challenging the deportation regime itself. As comparative findings of a longitudinal media analysis on anti-deportation protest events in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (1993-2013) indicate, protest activities in Austria mainly focus on hindering the implementation of individual cases and hardly challenge authorities or deportation policies. In contrast, German and Swiss protestors seek large-scale policy changes on behalf of human rights.
This paper presents empirical findings on anti-deportation protest movements and contributes to the understanding of the solidarity protest type regarding individual cases. For this purpose, we combine micro and macro explanatory approaches. First, we analyze the results of the quantitative empirical study to reflect both the broad popular support of restrictive asylum policies and the comparatively moderate protest culture in Austria. Second, we use data conducted for qualitative in-depth case studies. Interviews with activists and representatives of advocacy groups indicate that the motivation of protest actors to engage is largely characterized by moral values and (affective) emotions based on social ties. The framing of these actions stresses integration achievements and deservingness. We argue that these exogenous and endogenous explanatory factors of protest interact in creating this specific claim - and thereby form - of anti-deportation protest movement in Austria.
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