Diffusion of popular uprisings across countries

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för nationalekonomi

Abstract: A common but unsubstantiated notion is that popular uprising, like those witnessed during the Arab Spring, diffuse across countries. To date, academic research centres on intrastate determinants of political unrest, largely neglecting international considerations. The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether there exists a diffusion of popular uprisings across countries. Synthesizing previous work from the academic fields of revolution and diffusion, we develop a model explaining how transnational spillovers of popular uprisings might occur. The model proposes that an increased level of cultural, political, geographical, and economic closeness of countries facilitates diffusion. To empirically test the existence of such a diffusion pattern, we apply spatial econometric methods to a dataset containing protests and riots directed against government institutions in African states between 1997 and 2012. Our results do not reveal any underlying spatial relations in the data. Thereby, based on our sample and the investigated pattern of diffusion, we find no evidence supporting the notion that popular uprisings diffuse across countries.

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