Political Protest and Radicalization (WZB Protest Monitoring)


Since the 1990s, public debates over immigration, integration, and religion have increasingly shaped politics in Germany. Also, the streets have seen frequent violent mobilization and counter-mobilizations related to these issues. In this project, we examine radicalization and protest dynamics from different perspectives, with particular emphasis on the interaction between Islamist, radical right- and left-wing mobilization. Overall, we deliver a systematic protest monitoring by linking three different levels of analysis:

  • Protest events: When, where, by whom and around which topics does protest occur? What part does politically motivated violence play in the German protest arena? What spatial references and focal points both transnational and regional - can be identified regarding radical forms of protest?
  • Discursive contexts: What are the discursive opportunity structures of political protest and radicalization? Which actors, thematic fields, and patterns of interpretation are discussed regarding radicalization in the German public sphere? Which conflicts and escalation dynamics shape the debates?
  • Radicalized actors: Which sociostructural characteristics, life courses, group affiliations, and mobilizing structures are associated with individual radicalization processes?

In order to answer our research questions, the WZB’s protest monitoring involves three closely related data collection instruments: a systematic protest event analysis (including political violence); an analysis of public debates; and a survey of the profiles of radicalized actors. Empirically, the protest monitoring is based, among other things, on media coverage in national and regional daily newspapers as well as biographical and social network data on activists involved in political violence, and it combines automated and manual methods of quantitative content analysis.

The project is part of the "Monitoring System and Transfer Platform Radicalization" (MOTRA) research cluster, a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung