This paper describes a research program that focuses on the explanation of political protest and its causes. The starting point is Mancur Olson’s theory of collective action. This theory is modified, extended and applied to explain political protest. In particular, it is argued that only a wide version of Rational Choice theory that includes ‘soft’ incentives as well as misperception is capable of providing valid explanations of protest behavior. Another part of the research program is the utilization of survey research to test the predictions about protest behavior that are generated from the wide version of Rational Choice theory. The research program further aims at (a) comparing empirically Rational Choice and alternative propositions, (b) providing micro-macro explanatory models, (c) dynamic theoretical models, and (d) explaining preferences and beliefs which are usually treated as exogenous variables. The paper further reports, some results of the research program.
© 2001 by Lucius & Lucius, Stuttgart