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Learn more Check out. Citing Literature. Volume 7 , Issue 7 July Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. During dramatic events that draw widespread attention, it is also more costly and dangerous for the regime to use its military and police forces to quell widespread popular resistance. Furthermore, the use of law enforcement agents against civilians during mass events can lead to the undermining of discipline in the military and police and may lead to defections, splits, and abandoning the ruling elite.
This is especially the case when the protesters use nonviolent methods and when the army and police are not part of the ruling ethnic elite and have less to lose Stephan and Chenoweth In sum, dramatic events that attract wide attention help collective action as channels of communication open and provide people with new information about their society and its governance. Such events create an atmosphere of change in which people are more easily mobilized to protest and the target is clear. Concrete alternative policies are not always offered during dramatic events, nor are they necessary.
The alternative policies and visions of tomorrow may not even be agreed or consistent among the groups that call for political change. The events themselves are of course unique in each case, but there is a general similarity in their impacts on political consciousness and political behavior, which consequently undermine the regime. The emergence of resistance activity is the result of a dramatic cognitive change in how people evaluate themselves in relation to longstanding practices of oppression, often in relation to the political system itself.
In other words, people gain a new sense of self-efficacy Bandura and high self-esteem regarding their collective ability to reform the system and change their lives for the better. A second characteristic of transformative events is that people come to identify with the movement and stake their self-esteem on struggle goals.
Self-esteem is a powerful motivator for action. Once a person admits that his or her predicament is directly due to the regime or its indirect structures of oppression , it becomes hard to disassociate from the negative and positive feelings intertwined with inaction or action, respectively.
This compulsion could arguably be stronger when that person has experienced injustice through an act of direct repression e. In such situations, people will not easily give up this new sense of power, autonomy, and positive self-esteem.
The ability to continue protesting becomes in itself a pivotal goal and a source of joy. By continuing to defy the regime, citizens are gaining recognition, restoring their damaged sense of self-esteem, or simply enjoying their new freedom to act and express themselves. In other words, resistance becomes a source of pride or even a form of therapy. Taking pride in action becomes an emotional benefit and can facilitate and maintain long-term resistance activity see, for example, Wood The protest itself is a sort of demand for recognition, a demand more basic than the immediate demands that may be placed on the ruling elite Shultziner Furthermore, for some citizens, it becomes more difficult to stop defying and resisting the regime after they experience the system through confrontation, violence, or moral shock, all of which can make them see the system in a new way.
The coming together of ordinary citizens in mass meetings, and through other new political spaces physical or online that suddenly open up in dramatic events, impacts the ways people understand their own problems.
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Personal experiences suddenly become refrained and contextualized as collective experiences. The participants then realize the extent to which their personal problems were in fact a collective Transformative Events, Repression, and Regime Change I 63 problem Evans ; Gamson a, b.
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Moreover, by coming together for the first time in large numbers and for a political purpose, the participants are introduced to political goals that most of them did not even dream were possible to achieve. Normally, habitual beliefs in the ability and authority of the government to rule are basic and key elements of political power on habit as a source of legitimacy and authority, see Shively , By undermining habits and life routines, transformative events essentially undermine the authority and legitimacy of the government.
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A related characteristic of transformative events is the creation of a new group identity and heightening of solidarity among those who resist. In such contexts, new personal experiences, social interactions, and information generate group or social identity. Individuals either begin to see themselves as part of a group for the first time, or their existing group identity gains new meanings. Social identity theorists argue that group identity formation is rooted in the human desire to maintain positive self-esteem Horowitz ; Tajfel and Turner ; Turner In other words, following transformative events, people begin to take pride in and profess their political and social identities.
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Theories of regime change and democratization have tended to ignore events, including responses to repression, as major causes. While there is no necessary contradiction between macro-level explanations and those based on events, the two approaches can yield very different explanations about the source of unrest and regime change Shultziner I illustrate this point with two examples, which also illuminate the centrality of repressive actions by law enforcement and social interactions between state authorities and resistance groups.
The schoolchildren who took to the streets did not develop their anger due to worsening material conditions, and in fact many of them were not particularly angry over material conditions before June 16,, the first day of the Soweto uprising. The initial reason that schoolchildren took to the streets in Soweto was because they were forced to learn several hard subjects in the Afrikaans language. As some of them were failing their exams they organized a protest only against this unfair policy. It was this violent police reaction, and the picture of fatally wounded sixteen-year- old Hector Peterson carried in the arms of an older student, that caused the critical moral shock and anger, and spurred the widespread uprising in South Africa Shultziner , chapter 6.
Front a limited protest within the apartheid system, June 16 turned the protest into a struggle against the whole system. The causes of this event, however, cannot be reduced to or explained by macro-level factors. It instantly transformed a protest which might otherwise have been confined to the Afrikaans issue and to Soweto into a generalised nation-wide revolt against the total situation in which black South Africans find themselves.
That is, a meaningful explanatory role must be given to the event of June 16 and its brutal repressive nature, which had immediate implications for the ensuing clashes see also Shultziner , chapters 6 and 7. In this case, frustration and unrest built up due to increasing humiliation of black bus riders by white bus drivers in the two years preceding the struggle Shultziner 2or3. That the buses were almost completely empty on that day surprised everybody in Montgomery, including the organizers of the boycott King  December 5 was a transformative day for the community for two reasons.
First, black Montgomerians realized at once the scope of their shared humiliation on the buses.
Second, the mass meetings on the evening of December 5 brought the black Montgomery community together for the first time, physically in the same church, for a shared struggle. The community collectively redefined the way it perceived the bus system in their city. Their Transformative Events, Repression, and Regime Change I 67 willingness to struggle against the long-standing injustices on the buses was born and cemented on that day Shultziner , chapters 4 and 5 , and at this point, the story becomes more familiar.
Martin Luther King Jr. The events of December 5, , in Montgomery cannot be explained by macro-level factors alone Shultziner They persisted until the bus segregation system was abolished. In South Africa, the world recession was not felt by schoolchildren by the time of the Soweto uprising.
Thus, it appears the outbreak of civil resistance can occur when there is relative stability in terms of the macro configurations of the economy and institutions. To be clear, I do not argue that dramatic events necessarily result in regime replacement and democratic progress. The argument is that regime change and democratic progress are more likely to occur as a result of repression or other transformative events.
In fact, democratic change is often the end result of a chain of events beginning with a dramatic event. These sudden and rapid breakdowns of regimes are often related to excessive repression that backfires. Chains of events may begin from a repressive event within the system, such as the killing or humiliation of a citizen. Whether a regime can withstand the crumbling of the status quo depends on many factors and involves a high degree of contingency and chance.
It is very difficult, and arguably impossible, to forecast which dramatic event will lead to regime change and transition to democracy. Yet certain patterns do emerge from this preliminary study that warrant further attention and exploration. References Bandura, Albert. Berman, S. Biko, Steve, and Aelred Stubbs. London: Bow- erdean Press. Bunce, Valerie J. Capoccia, G. Contenta, Sandro. Davidheiser, Evenly B.