Studies 1-3 provide consistent evidence that the use of extreme protest tactics led observers to feel less social identification with the movement and, as a result, support the movement less. This effect was found for a variety of extreme protest tactics – including the use of inflammatory rhetoric, blocking traffic, and vandalism – and affected perceptions of diverse movements. Finally, we explored the motives underlying the potential use of extreme protest tactics, finding that strong advocates for a cause and social movement activists believed extreme protest tactics would be effective not only for raising awareness of, but also recruiting popular support for, their cause (Studies 4a & 4b).
This working paper argues that the use of ‘extreme protest tactics’, i.e. civil disobedience and the like, decreases (immediate) popular support of a movement or cause. It has a long list limitations, so I’m not entirely convinced yet, but I’ll have to keep an eye on this.
Feinberg, Matthew and Willer, Robb and Kovacheff, Chloe (2017). Extreme Protest Tactics Reduce Popular Support for Social Movements. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2911177