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Journal Article

Measuring and analyzing protest potential from a survey data recycling framework


Publication date

Apr 2022


As active involvement in protest has been legitimized as an acceptable form of political activity, citizens’ protest potential has become an important measure to understand contemporary democratic politics. However, the arbitrary use of a forced-choice question, which prevents those who have previously participated in protests from expressing willingness to engage in future protest, and the limited coverage of international surveys across countries and years have impeded comparative research on protest potential. This research develops a new systematic weighting method for the measurement of protest potential for comparative research. Using the 1996 International Social Survey Program survey, which asks two separate questions about “have done” and “would do” demonstrations, I create a weighting scale for the forced-choice question by estimating the predicted probabilities of protest potential for those who have already participated in demonstrations. Capitalizing on the survey data recycling framework, this study also controls for harmonization procedures and the quality of surveys, thereby expanding the cross-national and temporal coverage beyond the affluent Western democracies. The results show that this weighting scale provides a valid measure of protest potential, and the survey data recycling framework improves comparability between surveys.

Published in

American Behavioral Scientist

Volume and page numbers

66 , 434 -458





Politics, Interdisciplinarity: Social Sciences, Survey Methodology, Surveys, and Social Behaviour


Open Access; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

Related publications

  1. What should we do about inter-survey variability in survey data harmonisation? A survey data recycling approach

    Joonghyun Kwak

    1. Politics
    2. Interdisciplinarity: Social Sciences
    3. Survey Methodology
    4. Surveys
    5. Social Behaviour


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