Perceived Risks of Protest Participation among Hungarian Students
There is abundant literature on individual-level characteristics that encourage citizens to participate in political demonstrations. However, empirical studies on demobilization and factors that prevent people from joining protests remain scarce. In this paper, I zero in on the perceived risks of political participation. Two questions are examined: first, how protest willingness is shaped by perceived risks, and second, what political and socio-economic factors explain risk perception. I answer these questions using the representative sample of 800 Hungarian university students from the Active Youth Survey (2019). Hungary has a special position in Europe because it is defined neither as a liberal democracy nor as sheer autocracy, but an ‘illiberal regime’. In non-democratic illiberal societies the state does not apply overt repressive techniques against dissident groups, although protest participation is still not a riskless form of political action, as regarded in developed democracies.
I apply logistic regression models to predict both protest willingness and perceived risks of protest. Results confirm the importance of risks in extra-parliamentary protest politics, since almost half of the university students see their participation in demonstrations as somewhat risky. Regression models show that perceived risks are to some extent politicized, but risks have their own significant role in explaining protest (un)willingness.
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