Scholarship on the state control of social movements has predominately focused on overt repression, resulting in comparatively less attention to more covert forms of control. Researchers have suggested that government surveillance of social movement organizations (SMOs) has become increasingly widespread and routinized in the post-September 11, 2001 era, but this hypothesis has remained untested. Since contemporary surveillance is grounded in a logic of information gathering that has diffused across law enforcement agencies since the September 11 attacks, government actors now cast a wide net and monitor a large variety of groups. This study shows that a result, traditional factors predicting surveillance, such as contentious behavior, have less explanatory power. Using a database of 409 SMOs active in Philadelphia between January 1996 and October 2009, the research asked who and why particular groups are monitored by the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security (PA-OHS) between November 2009 and September 2010. Bayesian logistic regression analysis is used to examine the variables predicting surveillance. Findings show that 23% of the SMOs in the sample were targets of surveillance. Organizational ideology was the strongest predictor and there was little evidence that history of contentious protests or previous conflict with the police influenced coming under surveillance. However, groups with less visibility in traditional media sources were more likely to be monitored.
Rafail, P. (2014), "What Makes Protest Dangerous? Ideology, Contentious Tactics, and Covert Surveillance", Intersectionality and Social Change (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 235-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0163-786X20140000037026Download as .RIS
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