Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy

My 6 year-old son came home from Kindergarten yesterday and asked me why Dr. King marched in the streets and why he went to jail.  In the wake of the President’s hateful comments, I tried hard to explain the history of race-relations in America and highlight the progress that has been made.  Quickly, however, the conversation with my kids turned into a discussion of how America is a living and breathing experiment in democracy and that we still have much work to do.

MLK Day on Monday falls a week before the anniversary of the Women’s March–the largest protest in America’s history and the spark that ignited the Resistance. Chapter 2:  Resistance in the Streets goes live on that anniversary next week.  In the meantime,  as we celebrate , remember that Dr. King’s legacy lives on in right here and right now.


Protests Resume in 2018

Happy 2018!

As the new year gets rolling, a number of marches have been scheduled around the US.  Although the organizers of the Women’s March are focusing their #PowerToThePolls in Nevada, events are scheduled around the country to commemorate the anniversary of the Women’s March on the weekend of January 20-21st.  The following weekend–on January 27th–the People’s March on Washington has been called.  It will be interesting to see if this new wave of events grows as we move towards the Mid-term elections and if the 2018 events turn out larger crowds than the marches that took place during the later part of 2017.  For all large marches in DC (with more than 50,000 people expected), I intend to field a research team to collect data to add to my Resistance in the Streets dataset.

Speaking of Chapter 2: Resistance in the Streets, the chapter goes live on this site on the anniversary of the Women’s March (21 January 2018).  In the meantime, I’m spending much of my January interviewing people involved in the Resistance in the Districts, which is chapter 3 of the book.

Updated Resistance Timeline and #MeToo

Today I finished chapter 2 on Resistance in the Streets. I am hoping that it will be through peer-review to be posted by the 1-year anniversary of the Women’s March in January so stay tuned…

Here is an updated timeline of Resistance in the Streets.  I’ve added in #TakeAKnee, which has clearly responded to the actions of the President.

It’s not yet clear if #MeToo belongs up on this timeline but I am monitoring it. We will have to see the degree to which it joins the Resistance in terms of its focus on the Trump Administration and its policies.


Scientists in The Resistance

Today my piece specifically focused on the March for Science was published at Sociological Forum.  The article is part of a “Forum” on science and activism

In the piece, I analyze how participants at the March for Science compare to a broader sample of participants in the Resistance. Although they have some unique characteristics, my findings show that there are few statistically significant differences between participants in the March for Science and others participating in the Resistance. Also, in contrast to what some might expect, participants in the March for Science were no more educated than participants at the other two marches. In fact, participants in the Women’s March in January 2017 had the highest levels of educational attainment of all with 87% of participants holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Although they aren’t statistically significant, when we compare across protest events, we see clear evidence that protesters in the streets are also engaging in other forms of civic engagement.  Looking at two actions that have been encouraged by many groups in the Resistance—contacting an elected official or attending a town hall meeting—participation was high: 63% reported contacting an elected official in the past year and 43% reported attending a town hall meeting.  This figure from the article shows how these rates are going up.ScientistsInTheResistance

Mapping Resistance in the Streets

While working on Chapter 2, which focuses on Resistance in the Streets,  I realized there’s a real need for a Resistance Timeline.  Here is my first attempt to map Resistance in the Streets since the inauguration.  It includes the largest and most politically salient protests since the Inauguration of Donald Trump.


When we look specifically at the frequency and turnout of marches, this timeline indicates that the Resistance in the Streets is dying down.  However, there are a number of questions that need to be answered to interpret it:  Are Americans experiencing protest fatigue? Are they channeling their efforts into other types of Resistance?  Or, have they given up the fight?

As I continue to write while collecting data on the many forms of American Resistance, it is my intention to answer these questions.

Chapter 1: How Did We Get Here

In honor of the 2017 election results, which some have called a Tsunami for the Resistance, I am posting chapter 1 today.  This chapter catalogues the emergence of the Resistance, which is America’s response to an out-of-touch Democratic Party, a President who shows no interest in compromise, and the reach of conservative donors’ usage of Dark Money.  It is still going through peer-review.  I will post a revised peer-reviewed draft when reviews are back and I have responded to them.


#Manafort Monday Update

On this Monday that may live in infamy, I write with an update.  Chapter 1 is almost complete and will be going out for peer-review later this week.  I realize it will be posted later than originally scheduled, but life got in the way.  My family and I had to return from sabbatical in Sweden early due to our parents’ health issues.

It’s a great day to be settling back into the DC Area and to be putting the final touches on Chapter 1: How Did we Get Here.  I have adjusted the schedule on my previous post to accommodate for these changes.  More Soon!

What is the Resistance?

As I work on chapter 1 (which I plan to post by the end of the month), it has become clear that a working definition of the Resistance is needed.  Today, in the semi-plenary on Science and Activism at the Earth System Governance conference in Lund, Sweden, I proposed the following working definition:

Resistance (rɪˈzɪstəns) : People working individually and through organizations to challenge the Trump Agenda.  The Resistance includes people working as individual citizens, through their professions as lawyers, artists, scientists or professional athletes.  It also includes organizations that run the gamut in terms of their levels of professionalization–the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Greenpeace, professional associations like the American Sociological Association, and Indivisible–are all playing parts in the Resistance. In addition, the Resistance includes actors within the government itself that are working at multiple scales of governance.  To date, the Democratic Party is a small and isolated component of the American Resistance.

American Resistance documents the Resistance, focusing on the issues that are mobilizing participants and the tactics they are employing.  It concentrates on three specific components of the Resistance: Resistance in the Streets, Resistance in the Districts, and Resistance from Within.  It concludes with a discussion of what the Resistance means for democracy and politics in the United States after the 2018 election.



The March for Racial Justice Joins #TheResistance

On September 30th my colleagues and I fielded a research team to survey a random sample of participants at the March for Racial Justice in Washington, DC. Like at other protest events, teams of 2 surveyed participants throughout the rally area (full details of sampling and methodology available upon request). In total, 187 people completed the survey (representing an 83 response rate).

Analysis from data collected at the March for Racial Justice (M4RJ) indicates that the Resistance is still growing.  People who are getting engaged are staying engaged: most participants (76%) reported also participating in the Women’s March; a third (34%) reported participating in the March for Science; a quarter (25%) reported participating in the People’s Climate March; and a fifth (21%) reported participating in the Equality March.  As a result, the March mobilized a relatively low percentage of first-time protesters (18%) and only 2% of participants said that they had not participated in a protest in the past 5 years.

In addition to attending marches, respondents were very civically engaged.  More than half (52%) reported attending a town hall meeting in the past year (since September 2016), which is one of the major tactics employed by the Resistance.  Beyond repeat attendance at protest-events, town hall meeting attendance rates have gone up at each march and this number was the highest to date.

Like at previous marches, most respondents said that the outcome of the 2016 election was important to their decision to participate (97%).  However, this march had a lower level of Clinton voters than previous marches (79%).  This finding suggests that more people who supported a third party candidate or did not vote in the 2016 election are getting involved in the Resistance.  No respondents reported voting for Trump.

So far, the Resistance is mobilizing highly educated Americans who lean to the left:  70% reported completing a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  This march turned out a higher proportion of Black participants (18%) than the national average.  Given that the focus of the M4RJ was on Racial Justice, this finding makes a lot of sense.

This march was smaller than expected—about 10,000 turned out.  In contrast to the large-scale marches since the Inauguration, the M4RJ was endorsed by only a few of the major national organizations that have been involved in events since the inauguration (such as ACLU and NAACP and the unions).  Had the large national groups joined in, I expect turnout would have been much larger and the march could have attracted some of famous people involved in #TakeAKnee.  It is possible that protest fatigue is setting in for some national groups that have been involved in a number of events since January.