Doctoral Dissertation: Police Responses to Protest Activities in 30 U.S. Cities, 1996-2006

Project: Research project

Project Details


Social movement scholars have long recognized the importance of understanding the police handling of protest events, referred to as protest policing. Most protest policing theory focuses on aggregate differences between nation-states. Yet emerging research on policing in the U.S. suggests that contextual, meso-level processes may also be important. Accordingly, we pose three research questions:

1) Is there theoretically meaningful variation in protest policing patterns across U.S. localities?

2) Is protest policing shaped by city level variation in socio-economic and political environments where contentious action occurs?

3) Are nation-state level theories of protest policing useful for understanding variation across American cities?

To address these questions, we examine protests in thirty large U.S. cities between 1996 and 2006. Our research design involves creating a data set that combines a systematically coded sample of protest events drawn from local newspapers, organizational characteristics of municipal police departments, and ecological characteristics of each included city. This design allows us to use multilevel models to address our questions. We expect our research findings will revise and strengthen existing sociological theories of protest policing and social movements. Additionally, by incorporating data about police departments and community context, we hope to bridge the theoretical gap between the protest policing, criminological, and policing research literatures.

Effective start/end date9/1/098/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $10,000.00


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