Economic Grievances, Conspiracy Beliefs and Participation in Corona Protests. A Case-Control Study of the “Querdenken” Protests in Germany

About this Session


Thu. 07.04. 10:00



Speaker: Sebastian Koos, Co-Author: Nicolas Binder

Grievances have long been perceived as an insufficient condition for the emergence of protest, especially in affluent democracies. Yet, the multifold crises and ensuing political protest in recent decades have renewed the interest in the role of grievances for political mobilization. Most studies have however focused on the distributive outcomes of crises and policies and have neglected the procedural dimension of crisis management. Yet, social psychological research has emphasized the importance of procedural compared to distributional fairness perceptions. Analysing the Corona or “Querdenken” protests during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, we argue that political distrust and belief in conspiracy theories are important procedural dimensions that have a direct bearing on how the Corona crisis lead to mobilization. To overcome the small N-problem of existing population surveys, when studying protest, we employ a case-control design from epidemiology. This research design combines a specific sample of a group of “treated” people, i.e. protest participants, with a representative sample of the whole population “at risk” of participation. Empirically we use data from a protest survey fielded during a German wide central protest event in Southern Germany, combined with a sample of a general population survey, with comparable measures. Our models show that not economic deprivation, but conspiracy beliefs as well as a distrust in the government explain protest participation.