To read this content please select one of the options below:

Do Issues Matter? Anti-Austerity Protests’ Composition, Values, and Action Repertoires Compared

Protest, Social Movements and Global Democracy Since 2011: New Perspectives

ISBN: 978-1-78635-028-2, eISBN: 978-1-78635-027-5

Publication date: 9 June 2016


An important wave of anti-austerity protests has swept across Western Europe in recent years. We can thus distinguish between three different types of protest occurring in Western Europe recently: “old” issue protests, relating to the trade union and labor movement; “new” issue protests, relating to culture and identity issues; anti-austerity protests, emerging directly in reaction to austerity measures and cuts enacted in the current period. Following previous literature, we hypothesize that anti-austerity protests have attracted a new constituency to the streets and that they will be different from both “old” and “new” protests in terms of their social composition, value orientations, and action repertoires. We expect anti-austerity protesters to be on the whole younger, and in more precarious working conditions, to be more concerned with economic over social issues, but also to be considerably less institutionalized and embedded in organizational networks, and to have fewer experiences of previous extra-institutional participation. We test these hypotheses by analyzing a unique and novel dataset containing data from over 10,000 protestors from 72 demonstrations (2009–2013). Our results lend broad support to our hypotheses with the exception of the idea that “precarity” forms a new social base for anti-austerity protests.




We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers, as well as Alejandro Pena, Holly Ryan, and Thomas Davies for their useful feedback. We are also grateful to the other presenters at the British International Studies Association BISA@40 Workshop on Protest, Social Movements, and Democracy, London, June 16, 2015 as well as the participants of the panels we coordinated on Social Movements and Political Protest in Times of Austerity at the XXVII Meeting of the Italian Political Science Association (SISP), University of Florence, September 12–14, 2013 for their insightful comments on our paper. This work would have not been possible without the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the various national funding agencies across the countries of the project as well as the cross-national research team of the Caught in the Act of Protest: Contextualising Contestation (Klandermans et al., 2009) project, including the many students and research assistants that helped us with data collection in the field. As usual, any remaining errors are entirely our own and we take full responsibility.


Grasso, M.T. and Giugni, M. (2016), "Do Issues Matter? Anti-Austerity Protests’ Composition, Values, and Action Repertoires Compared", Protest, Social Movements and Global Democracy Since 2011: New Perspectives (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 39), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-58.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016 Emerald Group Publishing Limited