Seeing blue: A police-centered explanation of protest policing

Jennifer Earl, Sarah A. Soule

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Existing explanations of repression and the policing of protest focus on the interests of political elites, with research indicating that a chief predictor of state repression is the level of threat protesters pose to elite interests. However, prior research has only paid sporadic attention to how the institutional and organizational characteristics of local law enforcement agencies shape the character of protest policing. This article addresses this significant theoretical gap by developing a police-centered, or "blue," approach to protest policing. Using data on the policing of public protest events in New York State between 1968 and 1973, this article finds support for the blue approach. Specifically, the situational threats posed by protesters to those agents who actually perform repression - local police - are critical predictors of police presence and action. Results also show some residual support for the role of elite threats in structuring repression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-164
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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