Social Networks, Protest, and Repression
Abstract: Fat tails dominate the distribution of connections in social networks and the size of protests. We introduce a model that connects these two facts. A series of simulations varies the size and frequency of mass mobilization as a function of the distribution of connections and the level of repression, generating two primary, unintuitive results. First, mass mobilization does not depend on the density or clustering of the network of the initial protesters. Second, there are several nonlinear relationships between the scaling of connections and the scaling of protests. The most realistic results occur for social networks that are neither dominated by well-connected or poorly connected individuals. The correlation between the distribution of connections in the network, the network structure of the initial protesters, and the size of subsequent protest also changes nonlinearly. After presenting the model and its results, we discuss how it explains why states repress all protests, the forms of that repression, and suggests an answer to the repression-dissent puzzle.