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The Effect of Opportunity Cost and Pacifism on Protests in Occupied Regions

Gupta, Rupayan (2008): The Effect of Opportunity Cost and Pacifism on Protests in Occupied Regions.

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This paper examines how the opportunity costs of the leaders of a national protest movement, and the intrinsic pacifism of the occupier, affect the nature of the movement against occupation. A two-stage game is modeled, in which a protest leader and the external occupier fight over the control of the population of an occupied region. The occupier can choose a level of force to punish the leader and other participants of the protest movement. The leaders of the protest can actively convert the populace to protest. The findings of this paper indicate that under certain circumstances leaders who have a greater opportunity cost of leading protests may be more active, compared to leaders with lower opportunity costs. Further, the former may be able to lead a movement with more mass support. This paper also characterizes equilibria where a less pacifist occupier can actually de-escalate the conflict with the protestors. The characteristics of the population residing in the occupied region, the nature of punishment that is being meted out to the protestors, and the structure of enforcement costs that lead to these outcomes, are discussed in the paper.

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