Surveying the Protesters: Testing the Cultural Perception of Interviewers by Protesters and Standardizing Methodology

Funding: MTA TK

The project ‘Surveying the protesters: testing the cultural perception of interviewers by protesters and standardizing methodology’ started in February 2018 with the contribution of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Center for Social Sciences. The aim of the project is to develop a standardized method of protest survey. Protest surveys are the direct inquiries of protesters during or immediately after the protest event. The first protest surveys came out in 1965 when anti-nuclear power plant protesters took the streets in Germany and in the United Kingdom. That opened a pathway for social movement research, which wouldn’t diffuse as a method until new waves of mobilization rolled in during the 2000s and a new study offered research methods at the end of that period. Simple surveys were introduced in Hungary at about the same period.

The standardized method will be developed together with the project participants, while pilot protest surveys will be made in Hungary. On the basis of these experiences, other participants will conduct their own protest surveys, which will allow to have comparable data. Furthermore, another goal of the project is to research the cultural perception of the protesters, by understanding trust and distrust vis-á-vis interviewers with features of different political groups from various cultural milieus. With the experiment we can test the interviewer effect during protest surveys and its impact on the respondent rate.

As part of the international cooperation six protest surveys have been held:

1. Peace March, Budapest, March 15, 2018

On March 15 2018 the Hungarian team held a protest survey during the Peace March (Békemenet) in Budapest. The march was organized in order to support the Orbán government during the campaign before the 2018 general election in Hungary. During the survey the interviewers asked the participants chosen by the pointers to fill a short questionnaire. Every fourth questionnaire has more questions. The participants were also asked to give their email address in order to send them a link to a longer online questionnaire. The participants also had the option to take a hard copy longer questionnaire in a pre stamped envelope.

2. Oppositional party rally, Budapest, March 15, 2018

On March 15 2018 the Hungarian team held a second protest survey at the rally of oppositional parties. Here the same method was used as during the Peace March survey.

3. Peace March of the Hungarian Two Tailed Dog Party, Budapest, March 15, 2018

The Hungarian team held a third protest on March 15 2018 under the supervision of Andrea Szabó (HAS CSS). This team used only short questionnaires.

4. Gay Pride, Warsaw, June 12, 2018

The German project partner ogranized a protest survey during the Gay Pride in Warsaw on June 12 2018. Here again the same method was as during the Peace March in Budapest. Dániel Mikecz, principal investigator of the Incubator project participated in the survey. Cooperating partner was the Polish Academy of Sciences.

5. 8th Housing March, Budapest, September 29, 2018

In order to involve social movements in to the research, the 8. Housing March organized among others by the A Város Mindenkié (The City is for All) group. This time we used only online surveys with the help of the Kobo Toolbox application.

6. National Independence Day March, Warsaw, November 11, 2018

The German project partner organized a protest survey during the National Independence Day March in Warsaw. This event was special as many radical right wing activists disturbed the event in the earlier years.

First results have been disseminated on the following events:

1. Kick-off workshop in Budapest, January 17, 2018

As part of the project the Hungarian team organized a workshop on January 17, 2018. Here the project participants started to draft the standardized method and will discuss the possible application. At the workshop participated Márton Gerő (HAS CSS), Szabina Kerényi (HAS CSS), Piotr Kocyba (TU Chemnitz), Jiri Navratil (Centre for Nonprofit Sector Research at Masaryk University) and Grzegorz Piotrowski (European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk). The participants focused on the following topics: participative observation at protests, the questionnaire, the interviewing process and the continuation of the international cooperation.

2. Conference presentaton at the 2018 ECPR General Conference, August 22-25, Hamburg

The first results of the project were presented during the ECPR General by Dániel Mikecz with the title “Policy or Politics? Issue Related Protests as Field of Anti-government Mobilization in Hungary.”

3. Methodological Challenges of Surveying Right-Wing Demonstrations and Protests in CEE, November 11, 2018, Warsaw

The German project partner organized a workshop about protest survey in Warsaw on November 11 2018 before the survey at the Polish National Independence March. Participants from Czech Republic, the United States, Poland and Hungary shared their experiences. From the Hungarian team Dániel Mikecz held a presentation with the title “The Fidesz, the Opposition and the Social Movement: Protest Survey Experiences from Budapest.

4. Civil Society in Motion: Protest Survey Experiences from Budapest, Republikon Institute, January 12 2019, Budapest

At this international workshop students and lecturers from the University of Leipzig discussed the state and developments of civil society in Hungary and Poland. The speakers Piotr Kocyba and Dániel Mikecz also presented the data and results of the Incubator project.

Project participants

Dániel Mikecz, PhD (Principal Investigator) is a junior research fellow at the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He defended his doctoral on the Hungarian global justice movement. Since 2015 he is also a researcher at the think tank Republikon Institute. From 2010 he holds various courses at the Eötvös Loránd University and the Corvinus University on protest movements and political participation. His main field of interests are social movements, the radical right and political participation.

Balázs Böcskei is a junior research fellow at the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Eötvös Lóránd University. He writes his doctoral thesis about the Orbán regime from the aspect of theories of democracy. His research interests are the contemporary social democracy and political communication. 

Márton Gerő is a junior research fellow at the Centre for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Eötvös Lóránd University. Márton currently participates in the  project titled 'Integration and disintegration processes in the Hungarian society' and member of the Hungarian  European Social Survey team. Besides he is an external member of the MTA-ELTE Peripato Comparative Social dynamics Research Group. Márton's primary research interest includes civil society, social movements, political participation and the politics of enmification.

Szabina Kerényi works for the COURAGE H2020 project at the Centre for Social Sciences at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. With a background in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science, she finished her doctoral school at the Centre for Social Science sin Brno. Her field of interest embraces post-transitional communities and grassroots movements in Central and Eastern Europe, with a focus on environmental mobilizations and urban movements. She is a co-editor of the special issue of on movements in CEE, and initiator of the network that resulted from that project.

Piotr Kocyba, PhD is a research assistant at the Institute for European Studies at Chemnitz University of Technology and an area expert on CEE. His main interest focuses on minority rights, cross border cooperation and social movements. Together with Dieter Rucht he conducted one of the most cited studies about the Dresden PEGIDA-demonstrations. He is currently conducting research on the methodological limits of surveying right wing protesters. Furthermore, he is preparing a project which will allow collecting data on protest in Poland, where until now no demonstrators have been surveyed.

Jiri Navratil, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Nonprofit Sector Research of the Faculty of Economics and Administration at Masaryk University. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Political Science in 2006, his Master’s Degree in Sociology in 2007 and his Ph.D. in 2012 at the Masaryk University. His research interests are civic engagement, collective action and social movements with a special focus on East-Central Europe.

Grzegorz Piotrowski, PhD works at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk, Poland and specializes in the study of radical social movements and civil society actors in Central and Eastern Europe. He is a graduate of the European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy. In his work he focuses on radical left wing libertarian groups and movements, in particular on anarchist, alterglobalist and squatting movements, but also on radical right wing activism. His recent publications include a book After the Iron Curtain: Central European Alterglobalists, Peter Lang 2017 and a co-edited volume Radical Left Movements in Europe, Routledge, forthcoming.

Principal investigator (PI):

Dániel Mikecz 
Junior Research Fellow 
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