A New Picture of Protest

The National Study of Protest Events (NSPE) employed hypernetwork sampling to generate the first-ever nationally representative sample of protest events. Nearly complete information about various event characteristics was collected from participants in 1,037 unique protests across the United States in 2010-2011. The first part of this paper reviews extant methodologies in protest-event research and discusses how the NSPE overcomes their recognized limitations. Next, we detail how the NSPE was conducted and present descriptive statistics. The hypernetwork sample is then compared to newspaper reports of protests. Confirming expectation, we find many differences in the types of events these sources capture. But the overall number and nature of these differences - including their magnitudes - are completely new and some are likely to be surprising. By contrast, little variation was observed in how participants and journalists described features of the same events. NSPE data have many potential applications and several possibilities for future research are outlined.