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Combining historical accounts, statistical analysis, detailed interviews, and a close case study of the Black Lives Matter movement, Gillion shows how protest can bring about political change through electorate influence.

Gillion, Daniel Q.

The Loud Minority

Why Protests Matter in American Democracy

Series:Princeton Studies in Political Behavior


    48,95 € / $56.25 / £48.00*

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    March 2020
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    Aims and Scope

    How political protests and activism have a direct influence on voter and candidate behavior

    The “silent majority”—a phrase coined by Richard Nixon in 1969 in response to Vietnam War protests and later used by Donald Trump as a campaign slogan—refers to the supposed wedge that exists between protestors in the street and the voters at home. The Loud Minority upends this view by demonstrating that voters are in fact directly informed and influenced by protest activism. Consequently, as protests grow in America, every facet of the electoral process is touched by this loud minority, benefitting the political party perceived to be the most supportive of the protestors’ messaging.

    Relying on historical evidence, statistical data, and detailed interviews that consider protest activity since the 1960s, Daniel Gillion shows that electoral districts with protest activity are more likely to see increased voter turnout at the polls. Surprisingly, protest activities are also moneymaking endeavors for electoral politics, as voters donate more to political candidates who share the ideological leanings of activists. Finally, protests are a signal of political problems, encouraging experienced political challengers to run for office and hurting incumbents’ chances of winning reelection. The silent majority may not speak with protest actions themselves, but clearly gesture for social change with their vote.

    An exploration of how protests affect voter behavior and warn of future electoral changes, The Loud Minority looks at the many ways that activism can shape democracy.


    17 b/w illus. 7 tables.
    Faithful and Fearless; Mary Fainsod Katzenstein; Taeku Lee; Mobilizing Public Opinion; Paul Burstein; Discrimination, Jobs, Politics; Kenneth Andrews; Freedom is a Constant Struggle; Political Process and the Development of the Black Insurgency; Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor; From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation; Freedom is a Constant Struggle; Angela Davis; race and ethnic politics; social movements; political communication; political behavior; sit-ins; liberal and conservative protests; women’s rights; LGBT community; Tea Party activists; Black Lives Matter; U.S. elections; American politics; 2020 elections; free-riding; electorate influence; ideological protest; political primaries; democratic national convention; republican national convention; campaign contributions; political backlash; electoral opportunity; a change is gonna come; political campaigns; congressional elections; American National Election Study; countermobilization; civil rights movement; Vietnam War; Civil Rights Act; Voting Rights Act; Martin Luther King; protest narrative; partisanship; polarization; Federal Election Committee
    Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;

    More ...

    Daniel Q. Gillion is the Julie Beren Platt and Marc E. Platt Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Political Power of Protest and Governing with Words.


    "The Loud Minority is a theoretically and empirically rich exploration of the nature of protests. Innovatively thinking of protests not as single events, but as ideologically linked clusters of events that send signals to the body politic, this fantastic book is an outstanding contribution to the literature. It should be read by those interested in social movements, race and politics, elections, and political parties."—Frank R. Baumgartner, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    "The Loud Minority shows not only how the politics of protests have become a firm part of ideological partisan conflict in the United States but also how protests can directly affect elections: by increasing voter turnout, increasing campaign contributions, and motivating higher quality candidates to run for office. Daniel Gillion’s highly original book could not be more relevant to American politics today."—Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University

    "For far too long, the analysis of American politics has betrayed a stark disciplinary divide, with political scientists focused on electoral politics and sociologists on social movements. But in this important new book, Daniel Gillion redresses this artificial split and offers the richest empirical portrait to date of the myriad ways movements impact electoral politics."—Doug McAdam, author of Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America

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