The Impacts of Repression: The Effect of Police Presence and Action on Subsequent Protest Rates

Jennifer Earl, Sarah A. Soule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Scholarship on the effects of various kinds of state repression (e.g., counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, protest policing) on subsequent dissent has produced a body of contradictory findings. In an attempt to better understand the effects of one form of state repression - protest policing - on one form of dissent - public protest - this paper examines the effects of various policing strategies used at protest events on subsequent protest levels in the United States between 1960 and 1990. Theoretically, we argue the effects of repression cannot be broadly theorized but instead need to be hypothesized at the level of particular police strategies and actions. We theorize and empirically examine the impacts of five police strategies, while also improving on prior analyses by producing a comprehensive model that examines lagged and nonlinear effects and examines the effects across the entire social movement sector, as well as across two specific movement industries. Results (1) confirm that not all police strategies have the same effects; (2) show that policing strategies tend to have predominately linear effects; (3) show that police actions have their strongest effects in the very short term, with few effects detectable after a few weeks; and (4) point to interesting differences in the effects of policing strategies on subsequent protest across different social movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-113
Number of pages39
JournalResearch in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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