Example proposal

Overarching Question

What central question are you interested in exploring? Why are you interested in exploring this question?

How does violence impact mass mobilization?

There's a revolutionary movement going on in Hong Kong. People here are mobilizing by the millions in the name of democracy. Sometimes the protests are peaceful; sometimes there are violent clashes. There are cases upon cases of police brutality documented by smartphones and news cameras. There are photos of protestors throwing bricks and molotov cocktails.

As students and teachers living on this island, we've seen protests ebb and flow around us physically and digitally. We've probably all heard a wide range of voices and opinions, especially related to who's to blame about protests. It's important for us to stay engaged and dig to find the truth.

In many cases, protests emerge suddenly. However, according to some researchers, it turns out that protests are on the rise around the world, but government violence has actually been decreasing. I wanted to see the trends in the data for myself.

So my question is Why now? And why are these protests so explosive?

What specific research questions will you investigate?

  1. Are protests getting more violent around the world?
  2. Do some regions of the world have more violent protests than others?
  3. Is state violence on the rise?

Data source

What data set will you use to answer your overarching question?

Data set 1: Global Data on Mass Mobilization

(Clark, David; Regan, Patrick, 2016, "Mass Mobilization Protest Data", https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/HTTWYL, Harvard Dataverse). https://massmobilization.shinyapps.io/yearlyChangeProtestBehavior/

Where is this data from?

After looking up the researchers from the podcast, I found this data set. The main researchers for the Mass Mobilization project are David H. Clark (Binghamton University) and Patrick M. Regan (University of Notre Dame), and the data was made available by a research center at Harvard. The data was compiled from a selected number of English-speaking newspapers.

What is this data about?

This dataset documents over 15,500 citizen-led protests around the world in 162 countries between 1990 and March 2017. Here, a protest is defined as a gathering of 50 or more people to make a demand of the government. For each protest, the dataset includes features such as protestor demands, the eventual outcomes, the protest size, and more.

The data set includes information about the protest, the time and location of the protest, the region and country of the protest, the main reasons for protesting, the state response, and more.


How will you use your data set to answer your quantitative questions?

  1. To answer this question, I will make scatter plots showing the number of protests per year over time. Then, I will separate violent and nonviolent protests and make the same charts for just violent protests and just non-violent protests.
  2. To answer this question, I will divide all of the protests by their region and make a pi chart showing the percentage of the overall protests each region has.
  3. Here I have to make a decision about which state responses count as violent. Some of the responses like beatings, shootings, and killings are obviously violent and some like accommodation and ignore are obviously nonviolent. However, arrests and crowd dispersal seem less clear. I will perform the same analysis twice, once including these two in violent responses and once including them in non-violent responses.