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Civil Resistance in the Shadow of the Revolution: Historical Framing in Nicaragua's Sudden Uprising

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Are long-standing, widespread grievances a necessary condition for civil resistance campaigns? We argue historical framing can enable sudden mass uprisings even where long-standing anti-regime grievances are absent. Protest cascades can develop to challenge relatively stable, popular governments through four interdependent historical framing mechanisms. First, protesters and bystanders may draw analogies to historical contentious episodes. Second, individuals or groups may imagine themselves occupying paradigmatic roles from past popular struggles, offering prescriptions for action. Third, protesters can adopt symbolic and tactical repertoires from previous contentious episodes. Finally, protesters may concentrate protests within symbolic space. We develop our theory with evidence from Nicaragua's 2018 mass uprising, which nearly toppled previously-popular President Daniel Ortega, after violence against protesters activated powerful frames resonating with Nicaragua's history of dictatorship and revolution.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2022

This article was made available online on September 17, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Civil Resistance in the Shadow of the Revolution: Historical Framing in Nicaragua’s Sudden Uprising".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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