I study the causes and effects of modern protests, using original and rich data sources, with a specific focus on the role of social media. I am particularly interested in protests affecting minorities and marginalized groups.
Job Market paper
Can chants in the street change politics’ tune? Evidence from the 15M movement in Spain – Latest version
Abstract: What are the long term effects of protests? This paper studies how the level of attendance at simultaneous marches organized by the 15M (the Spanish Occupy movement) impacted electoral behavior and political attitudes in the following decade. Using regional variation in weather shocks as an instrumental variable for the level of attendance at simultaneous marches, I find that cities with higher attendance are more concerned about corruption and vote more for left wing and anti-corruption parties and less for far-right parties. Using novel data from Twitter, I document, for the first time, a higher uptake of social media platforms after an offline protest and a persistent difference in online activity in cities with higher attendance. Using survey data, I also show a higher and longer-lasting electoral effect for people that have a social media account. Overall, this paper shows that street protests can have long-lasting effects on political concerns and electoral choices, explained, in part, by the creation of a persistent online social network.
Going Viral in a Pandemic: Social Media and the Broadening of the Black Lives Matter Movement – Current draft. Joint with Avetian, Vladimir; Sardoschau, Sulin; and Saxena, Kritika.
Abstract: How do modern social movements broaden their base? Prompted by the viral video footage of George Floyd’s murder, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement gained unprecedented scope in the spring of 2020. In this paper, we show that pandemic exposure (COVID-19 related deaths) significantly increased the take-up of social media and subsequently mobilized new segments of society to join the movement for the first time. We exploit Super Spreader Events in the early stages of the pandemic as a source of plausibly exogenous variation at the county level and develop a novel index of social media penetration, using information from more than 45 million tweets, google searches and mobility data. Our results suggest that social media can be persuasive and inspire action outside of traditional coalitions.
Triggers and barriers to political empowerment: Evidence from Black Lives Matter – Current draft
Abstract: This paper sudies the triggers, barriers and factors favoring political empowerment through protest in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) in the period 2014–2018 in the US. Using high-profile police-caused deaths of Blacks as a quasi-exogenous national protest trigger, and two-way fixed effects for counties and days, I study the differential effects of various local characteristics on offline protest behavior and online BLM activity. After confirming that police-related Black deaths are an important predictor of protests, and more so in places with a higher share of Black population, results show the following: 1) Past protest in the county itself and in surrounding areas increase the likelihood of observing a BLM event after a new trigger, even more so if past protest are larger, are closer geographically to the county or are closer in time to the date of a new trigger; 2) past local police-related deaths are linked to an increase in BLM protest and online discussion after a non-local police-related death that gained national media attention 3) economic resource deprivation reduces both protest behavior and online engagement in BLM debates, suggesting the existence of a “protest poverty trap”; 4) higher inequality increases the number of protests but not the likelihood of observing a first protest in a county that has never protested before, suggesting that unfavorable local context can be reinterpreted after exposure to a more negative narrative about it (for example during a protest); 5) more social links are related to an increase of the number of protests but not to the likelihood of observing a first protest, suggesting that having experienced a protest can reveal information about others’ political preferences in the region, allowing individuals to be less reluctant when taking advantage of their social network to push forward their protest agenda; 6) a higher ability to participate in formal ways in the political debate (such as participating in elections) reduces the protest behavior, suggesting that formal and informal means of political participation substitute each other.
Anti-immigration protest and hate crime: evidence from Germany, joint with Sardoschau, Sulin.
Abstract: Can gatherings of people with anti-migration views cause an increase in hate crimes against migrants? We study the effects of protests organized every Monday by PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicisation of the Occident) on subsequent hate crime activity against migrants. Preliminary results suggest that having a protest on a Monday increases the probability of having at least a hate crime committed against migrants in the following week in the same municipality and more so if the protests occurred under pleasant weather.
Published, peer-reviewed papers
Impact of switching bug trackers: a case study on a medium-sized open source project. Joint work with Zimmermann, Théo. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution (ICSME).
Abstract: For most software projects, the bug tracker is an essential tool. In open source development, this tool plays an even more central role as it is generally open to all users, who are encouraged to test the software and report bugs. Previous studies have highlighted the act of reporting a bug as a first step leading a user to become an active contributor. The impact of the bug reporting environment on the bug tracking activity is difficult to assess because of the lack of comparison points. In this paper, we take advantage of the switch, from Bugzilla to GitHub, of the bug tracker of Coq, a medium-sized open source project, to evaluate and interpret the impact that such a change can have. We first report on the switch itself, including the migration of preexisting issues. Then we analyze data from before and after the switch using a regression discontinuity design, an econometric methodology imported from quantitative policy analysis. We complete this quantitative analysis with qualitative data from interviews with developers. We show that the switch induces an increase in bug reporting, particularly from principal developers themselves, and more generally an increased engagement with the bug tracking platform, with more comments by developers and also more external commentators.
La crisis en femenino plural (The crisis in plural femenine). Joint work with Martinez-Castells, Ángels. Revista de Economía Crítica 9. 2010.