PROTESTING DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC - Motivations and choices made in the abortion law protests in Poland 2020

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This thesis analyses the motivations and choices made by participants and organisers of the 2020 Abortion Law protests in Poland. It is a qualitative study where the data was collected through interviews. The thesis investigates what motivated and influenced the participants’ and organisers’ decision-making regarding participation in the protests, and in what way the Covid-19 pandemic influenced the protests. The thesis applies a theoretic framework focusing on threat as a motivation for collective action and protests, and emotional energy in protest movements. By applying the theoretical framework to the data collected, it is concluded that people were motivated by reflex emotions of anger and fear, when the court ruling was announced. It was seen by many as a last straw, after a long process where several decisions had previously been adopted by the ruling party, Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS). Therefore, the protest motivation was not only against the abortion law, but rather against the government as a whole. Further, this thesis concludes that the Covid-19 pandemic affected many different aspects of the protests, from the ways to protest to the reasons why people were arrested. Through protests participants felt an emotional release and this thesis shows the importance of physical space for protests. The Covid-19 pandemic was not deterring people from participating. Instead, emotional energy was created among the protesters, through music and dancing but also through just being at the same place. This energy and the emotional release were communicated internally and externally and motivated further participation throughout the autumn of 2020.

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