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  • Mason Moseley
  • Kyu Chul Shin
Mason Moseley
Kyu Chul Shin
Vol. 8 No. 1 (2019), Articles, pages 165-207
Accepted: Jan 26, 2020
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The contentious politics literature has long been divided on the extent to which grievances –or “dissatisfaction caused by deprivation” (Dalton et al., 2009)– drive citizen participation in protests. Do grievances motivate citizens to take to the streets? To shed light on how grievances affect protest, we focus on citizen evaluations of public service provision in Latin America. Scant research has examined the effect of poor public service delivery on contentious participation in emerging democracies. We highlight two mechanisms associated with public service evaluations that facilitate mobilization: 1) firsthand experience with poor governance and 2) clear attribution of responsibility for poor service provision. To test our argument, we utilize data from the 2012 and 2014 AmericasBarometer national surveys of Brazil, and then generalize to Latin America in multilevel models of protest drawing from 18 countries. The results are consistent: where firsthand experience with state incompetence fuels declining system support and specific attribution of blame for underperformance, as in the case of public service evaluations in Latin America, grievances fuel participation in protest.


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