Mobilising Ukraine: Understanding the dynamics of protest diffusion.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Sociology


What accounts for diffusion of protest mobilization across diverse regions and populations of a country? How do slogans and symbols that motivate 'ordinary' citizens to join protests travel across space and time? And what role do they play in the mobilization process? My proposed research speaks to these broader puzzles, employing the case of Ukraine's EuroMaidan.
This project speaks to debates in contentious politics literature and also to broader questions in the study of political mobilization, behaviour and communication. Primarily, I will test theories put forth by Snow and Benford (1992; 1988) on how mobilizational frames account for protest diffusion, and Meyer and Tarrow (1998) on the role of culture in collective identity formation. I propose that slogans and symbols can be understood as a way in which protesters frame grievances and claims, and accordingly are subject to the processes of bridging, amplification, extension and creation outlined by Snow et al (1986). Awareness has been growing of the importance of culture and identity in social movement formation (Meyer and Tarrow 1998 ; Steinberg 2002, Tarrow 2004) . Cerulo (1995) reflects on social movements in her work on national symbols. Snow and Benford (1988) highlight the importance of the historic-cultural symbolic repertoire, and others emphasise the contemporary context of symbol generation (Cerulo 1995; Kolst 2006) . However, few works focus on, track and trace the role of symbols and slogans in the diffusion of protest mobilization. Using qualitative and quantitative tools, my research proposes to remedy this through a detailed exploration of the slogans and symbols of a protest movement, and the role they play in framing grievances, mobilizing individuals, and accounting for its diffusion.
Moreover, this thesis contributes to the EuroMaidan specific literature which focuses on: protesters' identities (Onuch 2014) , the diversity of protesters and aims (Onuch and Sasse 2016) , their values (Shestakovskyi 2015) , the radical right's role (Shekhovstov and Umland 2014) , and developments in Ukrainian nationalism and identity (Kulyk 2016) . However, neither regional Maidans, nor slogans and symbols, are specifically addressed in scholarship. Therefore this project addresses two key research gaps.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000649/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2095051 Studentship ES/P000649/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Emma Mateo