How Do People Understand Democracy and the Right to Protest Across Different Cultures?  A Qualitative Exploration in the U.S., Turkey and Chile

Ulug, O. U. (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Lickel, B. (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Gonzalez, R., (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Somma, N. (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Kanık, B., (Hacettepe University, Turkey), Piyale, Z. E., (Istanbul University, Turkey)

While there is a wealth of literature on how and why people support democracy, there has been comparably less focus on the relationship between the understanding of democracy and the right to protest. Protest may be important in all democracies, but people in different countries may have differing perspectives on the role of protest in democracy. This study investigated what democracy and protest mean for lay people as citizens of the U.S., Turkey, and Chile. We collected data from 289 participants through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in the U.S., 347 participants through TurkPrime in Turkey, and 401 participants through Netquest in Chile. We asked 12 open-ended questions about democracy and protest and analyzed the data using qualitative content analysis. Results indicated that there are very diverse opinions about a) meanings of democracy, b) problems of democracy, c) supporting democracy in a different country, d) how democracy should work, and e) best ways to make people’s voice heard. The results also highlighted very different perspectives about f) opinions on protests, g) limits of protest, h) unacceptable forms of protest, and i) ideal ways to protest. We discuss the meaning of these themes as well as differences and similarities within and between countries.


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Attitudes and Politics