Claire Corlett

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Studying a Protest Movement: Dana R. Fisher

Studying a Protest Movement: Dana R. Fisher


I’m Dana R Fisher, I’m a professor in the
Sociology department, I also run the program for society environment at the
University of Maryland. I study political decision making and the many different
actors who are trying to influence it including protesters and activists but
over the years I’ve collected data at around 13 different large-scale events
in four different countries so we have a data set of over six thousand protesters
at this point at these different events there were significantly more
first-timers than I’ve ever seen at a protest event before so 30-some percent
of all the people whom we serve it reported that this was the first time
they’ve ever participated in a protest which is very high at the same time
fifty some percent of them actually reported that even if they had
participated in a protest before this is the first time they’ve protested in five
years what we find is that the people who participated in the women’s March
what we call an intersectional crowd they were not one-trick ponies who were
just out because they care about one specific political issue they were out
because of a suite of issues and in some ways I think that’s one of the reasons
that the March was so successful because it brought out people who cared about a
whole bunch of progressive issues protests are effective if a lot of
people come out just like point-blank how do you define an effective protest
if you get a lot of people in the streets the problem is that you can’t
achieve political goals or even affect social change by just taking it to the
street on one Saturday in January even if you get lots of people in the street
protests and activism requires sustained engagement where people are both
protesting and boycotting and lobbying or you know voting against people
writing letters calling their representatives all of those things are
what are required my advice is that you should not just be marching it you’ve
got to be in you you’ve got to be taking advantage of all of the opportunities
that you have to be a citizen in this country and one of them is it’s very
easy to do a visit to your legislators office because you’re here at the
University of Maryland you can just get on the Green Line and go and I would
encourage everybody to go visit their elected official and tell them what they
think and for students who represent districts across the country they should
go by it by all means and visit with them and tell them what they care about
because that’s what democracy looks like

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