Pegida Protests Podcast Illustrates Concepts & Processes

In a recent podcast, Germany, Islam & The New Right, BBC Radio 4 explores the remarkable rise of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (Pegida) in Dresden, Germany (see here and here).  A local political scientist interviewed in the podcast explains that Americans should think of Pegida as the Tea Party, Brits as the BNP,[1] and the French as the National Front.

What interests me is the extent to which the podcast illustrates a number of concepts and processes I teach my students.  Pegida’s Monday protests echo those begun in Leipzig in 1989, which spread to many East German cities, including Dresden. Thus, Tilly’s “repertoires” are nicely illustrated.[2]  Informational theories of mobilization are also illustrated: the public display of opinions that are considered verboeten by political rulers makes others who hold such views more willing to air them in public, which creates a bandwagon among those who hold such views, but have different thresholds for taking the risk of being singled out and shamed or otherwise punished.[3]  Finally, Loewen’s argument about mono-cultures (highly homogenous ethnic communities) being most likely to vilify “the other” is borne out during the podcast.[4]

Finally, if you enjoy irony, that is yet another reason to check out the podcast.[5]


Cross posted at Mobilizing Ideas.

[1] A Pegida UK branch launched last month.

[2] From Mobilization to Revolution, 1978.

[3] For examples, see Suzanne Lohmann “The Dynamics of Informational Cascades: The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig, East Germany, 1989–91,” 1994 (ungated PDF here) and Timur Kuran “Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution,” 1989 (ungated PDF here).

[4] Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, 2006.  This is a variant of the contact hypothesis.  See, also, Keith E. Schnakenberg “Group Identity and Symbolic Political Behavior,” Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2014. Ungated at SSRN.

[5] The reporter, who clearly finds Pegida’s view unpalatable, is blissfully unaware of the information theories in [3].

About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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2 Responses to Pegida Protests Podcast Illustrates Concepts & Processes

  1. Kai says:

    I heard that podcast, too, and it was nicely done the way the BBC does these things, although it missed a couple of points. Most notably, attendance at Pegida marches was already declining when the piece came out, following strife in the leadership, loss of legitimacy (the inevitable Hitler pics), and a lack of innovation. Moreover, Pegida as a movement or rather an SMO never existed outside Saxony. The rest was /is mostly branding and Primary.

  2. Kai says:

    PR, not primary.

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