Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 28 Issue 4 (July/August 2018), Pages 189-289

Bad times are not good times for revolutions: Collective deprivation and the mobilization level of French radical movements (1882–1980) (pages 258-271)


Contrary to a popular belief, research has generally found no relationship between collective economic deprivation and the rise of radical political movements. On the other hand, various studies show that collective economic deprivation generates societal surges of conservatism. I therefore hypothesize that the absence of a relationship between collective deprivation and radical movements covers up opposite effects of collective deprivation depending on the ideology of radical movements: Reactionary (i.e., conservative radical) movements should mobilize more in times of collective deprivation, whereas revolutionary (i.e., progressive radical) movements should mobilize more in times of collective improvement. This paper tests this hypothesis via a new database measuring the level of mobilization of French radical organizations from 1882 to 1980. Statistical analyses confirm that collective deprivation, operationalized by long‐term economic recession and long‐term growth of inequality, increases the mobilization of reactionary movements and decreases the mobilization of revolutionary movements. These results contradict the view that economic conditions have no role in triggering radical movements and support recent development of system justification theory implying that ideology matters in the explanation of collective action.

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