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Resisting Lockdown: The Influence of COVID-19 Restrictions on Social Unrest

Wood, Reed and Reinhardt, Gina and RezaeeDaryakenari, Babak and Windsor, Leah (2022) 'Resisting Lockdown: The Influence of COVID-19 Restrictions on Social Unrest.' International Studies Quarterly, 66 (2). ISSN 0020-8833

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Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented social and political challenges. Mitigation strategies often disrupt the daily lives of citizens and constrain rights and privileges. Policies intended to contain disease spread have provoked resentment, resistance, and backlash. We examine the extent to which specific COVID-19 policy responses influence the frequency of civil unrest. Combining insights from both grievance and opportunity models of dissent, we contend that pandemic response policies are most likely to lead to unrest when the grievances and opportunities created by disease mitigation strategies reinforce each other. We test our arguments with nuanced information on specific pandemic mitigation policies, combined with geo-located events data on COVID-19-related social unrest activities. We find that policies such as workplace and school closures, which induce intense grievances and reduce the opportunity cost of engaging in collective mobilization, are associated with increases in dissent activities. Policies that restrict opportunities for mobilization, such as restrictions on public transportation, reduce the number of dissent activities. Notably, economic support policies attenuate the effects of workplace closures on dissent. Our results illustrate the varying effects of pandemic mitigation policies on unrest depending on how the grievances they inspire relate to the opportunity they create.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; hazards governance; civil unrest
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2021 19:43
Last Modified: 25 May 2022 16:38

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