Staunton, August 10 – Western investigators have long insisted that people take part in collective actions such as protests for one of three reasons: a feeling of injustice, a belief that only collective action can change things, and a politicized identity, that is, a pre-existing identification with the cause the protest is organized to advance.
But Dmitry Grigoryev, a specialist at the International Research Laboratory for Socio-Cultural Research at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, says, on the basis of his study of protests in Spain and in Russia that two other factors may play an even larger determining role (iq.hse.ru/news/301573440.html).
On the one hand, he says, people may be driven to take part in protests because of the ideology they accept. And on the other, Grigoryev suggests, they may do so out of a sense of moral obligation, a belief that participation is required to maintain their standing with others who believe as they do.
Grigoryev’s additions are important in the Russian context because they suggest that the ideology the Kremlin has sought to impose with its stress on democracy and law may lead Russians to protest when they conclude that the regime is hypocritically saying one thing and then doing another.
And they are important because they highlight the way in which the social pressures people feel because they are members of some community may have more to do with why they go into the streets than any personal conviction. At a certain point, such people do not want to stand aside lest they be viewed as outsiders.