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Climate protest and social movements: Charting and explaining variation in patterns of participation and frames among Climate Summit protestors in three countries

Conference contribution
Authors Mattias Wahlström
Magnus Wennerhag
Christopher Rootes
Published in Paper presented at the 6th ECPR General Conference, Reykjavik, 25-27 August 2011
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Subject categories Sociology


In this paper we analyse surveys of three large climate demonstrations in Copenhagen, Brussels and London, organized in connection with the UN Climate Change Conference 2009. We focus on three interrelated issues: (1) who demonstrates and (2) how demonstrators frame the climate problem, who is responsible, and preferred solutions, and (3) the relationship between the demonstrators’ socio-demographic and organizational characteristics, and their collective action frames. The demonstrations are results of the mobilization of broad coalitions of groups, and we find significant variation in the demonstrators’ framings in terms of a tension between system-critical and more individualist approaches and frame-bridging with justice frames. We find that while the individual variation in framing cannot be explained by the countries of origin of the protesters in each demonstration, the pattern of which frames are used varies significantly between the three protest locations. The between-country comparison is made possible by a unified methodology for sampling participants in demonstrations and controlling for response bias.

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