When the police use tear gas or rubber bullets to disperse street demonstrators, why do protests sometimes grow? When US states impose strict voter identification laws in an effort to discourage some groups from voting, why do their efforts often fail? What is the role of emotions like anger and fear in encouraging people to participate in politics—in elections or protests—or in keeping them at home? In Why Bother? Rethinking Participation in Elections and Protests (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Susan Stokes and coauthor develop the idea that just as there are costs of participation in politics, there are also costs of abstention—intrinsic and psychological but no less real. That abstention can be psychically costly helps explain real-world patterns that are anomalies for existing theories, such as that sometimes increases in costs of participation are followed by more participation, not less. Join Stokes to discuss these critical ideas in the context of the current global pandemic.
The author would like to notify the audience that Why Bother? will be available in Spanish in 2020 from Siglo XXI Editores.
Susan Stokes is the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and director of the Chicago Center on Democracy, which uses the power of research and discussion to support democracy worldwide. Her research interests include democratic theory, democracy in developing societies, distributive politics, and comparative political behavior, and she teaches courses on political development, political parties and democracy, comparative political behavior, and distributive politics. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Fulbright Program, American Philosophical Society, and Russell Sage Foundation. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Stokes’s coauthored book, Brokers, Voters, and Clientelism (Cambridge University Press, 2013), won best-book prizes from the comparative politics (Luebbert Prize) and comparative democratization sections of the American Political Science Association (APSA). Among her earlier books, Mandates and Democracy: Neoliberalism by Surprise in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2001) received prizes from the APSA (comparative democratization section) and the Society for Comparative Research.