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The Information Revolution and the Pacification of the World

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Paper given at the 2016 meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Philadephia. A previous version was given at the 2016 meeting of the European Political Science Association (EPSA) in Brussels.Despite relatively widespread revolutionary opposition to capitalism around the world in the 1960s, by the early 1990s this opposition will be remarkably pacified. Given the conventional wisdom from political science that patterns of ideology and behavior are relatively durable, these dynamics are a surprisingly under-discussed puzzle. I argue that a long-standing tradition of critical theory points to a novel and empirically tractable explanation of this puzzle. I first show that a line of thinkers ranging from Weber, to Heidegger, to the Frankfurt School theorists shared an implicit causal model in which modern technological advancements increase the prevalence of instrumental rationality, which in turn increases the tendency of human beings to think and behave as if human beings are objects. After extracting this implicit causal model from primary texts, I theorize that the information revolution functioned as an ethically-biased technological change that tended to increase instrumentally rational attitudes and cooperative within-system behaviors, relative to substantively rational attitudes and militant, anti-systemic behaviors. To operationalize and test the theory, I hypothesize that the spread of information-communication technology within a country will be associated with decreased anti-systemic protest behavior (e.g., rioting and guerrilla warfare) relative to within-system protest behavior (such as peaceful demonstrations and strikes). Using data for all available country-years between 1945 and 2013, I find support for the theory using a combination of statistical methods and a quantitatively optimized, qualitative comparison (Haiti and Bolivia in the 1980s). The findings provide novel empirical support for a long-standing but neglected hypothesis from critical theory, with important implications for empirical social scientists and critical theorists alike.
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The Information Revolution and the Pacification of the World
Justin Murphy
University of Southampton
Abstract: Despite relatively widespread revolutionary opposition to capitalism around the world in the
1960s, by the early 1990s this opposition will be remarkably pacified. Given the conventional wisdom
from political science that patterns of ideology and behavior are relatively durable, these dynamics are
a surprisingly under-discussed puzzle. I argue that a long-standing tradition of critical theory points
to a novel and empirically tractable explanation of this puzzle. I first show that a line of thinkers
ranging from Weber, to Heidegger, to the Frankfurt School theorists shared an implicit causal model
in which modern technological advancements increase the prevalence of instrumental rationality, which
in turn increases the tendency of human beings to think and behave as if human beings are objects.
After extracting this implicit causal model from primary texts, I theorize that the information revolution
functioned as an ethically-biased technological change that tended to increase instrumentally rational
attitudes and cooperative within-system behaviors, relative to substantively rational attitudes and mil-
itant, anti-systemic behaviors. To operationalize and test the theory, I hypothesize that the spread of
information-communication technology within a country will be associated with decreased anti-systemic
protest behavior (e.g., rioting and guerrilla warfare) relative to within-system protest behavior (such as
peaceful demonstrations and strikes). Using data for all available country-years between 1945 and 2013,
I find support for the theory using a combination of statistical methods and a quantitatively optimized,
qualitative comparison (Haiti and Bolivia in the 1980s). The findings provide novel empirical support for
a long-standing but neglected hypothesis from critical theory, with important implications for empirical
social scientists and critical theorists alike.
Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Philadelphia,
September 1-4, 2016. Any comments, suggestions, or questions are welcome and can be emailed to
j.murphy@soton.ac.uk. If you wish to cite, you can use the citation with DOI provided here, where the
most up-to-date version of this paper will be maintained. Please check there for future updates. This
version was last updated on August 20, 2016
1
Introduction
In the first two thirds of the twentieth-century, militant and anti-systemic political actions
such as rioting and guerrilla warfare were more common than pluralistic, within-system
forms of action such as demonstrations and strikes. Figure 1 plots the relative prevalence
of these four types of contentious political events, aggregated at the international level
for all available country-years in the widely used Cross-National Data Archive (Banks
and Wilson 2005). Figure 2 illustrates this pattern more clearly by combining riots and
instances of guerrilla war into one series, demonstrations and strikes into a second series,
and as a third series anti-systemic events as a proportion of the total number of events.
The latter series can be interpreted as relative systemic contentious, or the degree to
which the total amount of contentious activity is relatively anti-systemic. The available
data suggests the decline of militant, anti-systemic contention is a surprisingly global
pattern. First, the pattern depicted in Figures 1 and 2 holds for the developed and less
developed countries alike.1Figure 3 shows the degree to which this pattern occurred in
each country in the Cross-National Data Archive, by plotting the difference in average,
relative systemic contentiousness between the periods 1950-1970 and 1980-2000, for each
country. As the figure shows, between these two periods, average anti-systemic contention
decreased relative to within-system contention in all but eight countries. As these figures
show, the end of the 1960s saw a rapid and dramatic decline in militant, anti-systemic
collective actions such as rioting and guerrilla warfare, and a relative increase in within-
system actions such as demonstrations and strikes, in most countries around the world.
As I discuss below in greater detail, these dynamics are puzzling with respect to the
received wisdom from several scholarly literatures.
Furthermore, while public opinion data around the world through this period is less
plentiful, the available data suggest that attitudes toward systemic change (revolution)
have changed in the same direction over this time period. One measure of support for
revolutionary political change comes from the Eurobarometer, beginning in 1970 (Schmitt
and Moschner 2008). Figure 4 shows the aggregate proportion of individuals across seven
continental European countries who reported support for revolutionary change of the
political system, rather than gradual reform or defense of the established system.2As the
figure reveals, there is a clear secular decline in the proportion of individuals supportive
of revolutionary political change, from as much as nearly 8% in 1976 to less than 4% by
the end of the 1980s, roughly a 50% decrease in little more than ten years. How are we to
understand these long-term dynamics of rebellious and quiescent attitudes and behaviors
across countries since the 1960s?
I proceed to investigate this question in four sections. The first section explains why
the decline of anti-systemic contention relative to within-system contention is puzzling
and reviews two dominant approaches in empirical social science literatures, that related
1See Supplementary Information for a comparison of these time-series for OECD and non-OECD
countries.
2The nine countries are France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and Netherlands.
As countries entering or exiting the aggregation would lead to a misleading visualization, other countries
and years were excluded due to sparsity of observations. The United Kingdom and Ireland are excluded
because of the conflict over Northern Ireland.
1
−2
−1
0
1
2
1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
Year
Standardized values (z−scores)
Guerrilla warfare
Rioting
General strikes
Demonstrations
Media density
Figure 1: Global Dynamics of Contention. Each event series is a ten-year moving average
of the mean number of events across all available countries in each year. For comparability,
each variable is centered at zero and divided by one standard deviation. Media density
refers to the number of newspapers, radios, and televisions per person, within each country,
similarly aggregated at the international level. For more details, see Data and Method
below.
−2
−1
0
1
2
1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
Year
Standardized values (z−scores)
Guerrilla warfare and Rioting
Demonstrations and Strikes
Relative Systemic Contentiousness
Figure 2: Global Dynamics of Relative Systemic Contentiousness. Each series is derived
as above before summing as indicated. Relative systemic contentiousness refers to the
number of riots and guerrilla wars divided by the total number of contentious events.
2
Syria
Libya
Denmark
United Kingdom
Morocco
Netherlands
Iraq
Chad
Afghanistan
Turkey
Cambodia
Senegal
Gabon
Nigeria
Liberia
Iran
South Africa
Thailand
Cuba
Peru
Lebanon
Sudan
Indonesia
India
Colombia
El Salvador
Spain
Korea, South
Israel
Guatemala
Nicaragua
Venezuela
Argentina
Norway
Ghana
Saudi Arabia
Haiti
Philippines
Chile
United States
Uruguay
Pakistan
Belgium
Japan
Portugal
Italy
Jordan
Panama
Canada
France
Costa Rica
Austria
Tunisia
Romania
Brazil
Dominican Republic
Australia
Greece
Cyprus
Mexico
Albania
Hungary
Honduras
Paraguay
Bolivia
Ireland
Cameroon
Ecuador
China PR
Poland
New Zealand
Bulgaria
Nepal
Finland
Mongolia
Sweden
Switzerland
0.0 0.5 1.0
Change in Average Between Periods 1950−1970 and 1980−2000
Country
Decreased
Increased
Long−Term Changes in Relative Systemic Contentiousness
Figure 3: Change in Relative Systemic Contentiousness Between Periods 1950-1970 and
1980-2000
3
0.04
0.05
0.06
0.07
0.08
1975 1980 1985 1990
Year
Proportion supporting revolutionary change
Figure 4: Aggregate Support for Revolutionary Change Across Seven European Countries.
Includes only those countries with the longest-running, overlapping time-series in the
Eurobarometer sample.
to individual political behavior and that related to contentious politics. After explain-
ing the puzzle, a second section introduces a novel, possible approach to the question
from an intellectual tradition rarely, if ever, taken seriously by empirical social scientists.
Specifically, in the second section I elaborate in detail one lineage of European social
theory–from Weber, to Heidegger, to the Frankfurt School–that, I will argue, offers a key
to understanding dynamics of contention and quiescence in the twentieth century. This
second section concludes with one hypothesis, that operationalizes one of the key insights
from the theoretical discussion. A third section briefly outlines the data and research de-
sign. A fourth section presents some preliminary evidence, while a fifth and final section
concludes.
The Puzzle of Rapid and Widespread Pacification Since the 1960s
One reason why the decline of anti-systemic attitudes and behaviors since the 1960s is
puzzling is that much political science research suggests political attitudes and behaviors
tend to be stable over time. One of the oldest and most influential perspectives is that
political attitudes and behaviors are psychological attachments developed in early adult-
hood, especially from parents, which largely remain stable throughout an individuals’ life
(Campbell et al. 1960;Green et al. 2002). A non-psychological version of this perspective
believes that young adults develop rational priors about the political world, priors which
tend to remain rational throughout life owing to the relative stability of political orders
(Converse 1969;Achen 2002). While other scholars have proposed additional possible
mechanisms, for instance that social group stability as the cause of long-term stability in
individuals’s attitudes and behaviors (Gerber and Green 1998;Green et al. 2002), political
4
scientists tend to agree in seeing political attitudes and behaviors as typically acquired in
early adulthood and maintained over the lifespan. A similar dynamic has been observed
of core political values as well as partisan attachments (Evans and Neundorf 2013). There
is evidence that policy attitudes are responsive to policy supply, so that if policy moves
increasingly to the right or left, then at the aggregate levels mass attitudes tend to shift
to the left or right, respectively (Mackuen et al. 1992;Soroka and Wlezien 2010;Bartle
et al. 2011). Even this latter finding re-affirms a view of political attitudes as essentially
stable, responding only relatively to changing circumstances, as if to bring policymaking
back toward the public’s ideal point.
If political attitudes and behaviors are understood to be largely stable at the individual
level but responsive in aggregate to policymaking, the dynamics of anti-systemic attitudes
and behaviors in the twentieth century are peculiar in several ways. First, there is a great
deal of evidence that the 1960s was characterized by a relatively massive, society-wide
disruption of attitudes and behaviors (Morgan 2010;Gitlin 1980). What today are called
“social movements” pale in comparison to what is described by historians of the 1960s as
fundamental individual-level transformations of attitudinal and behavior patterns across
multiple sectors of the polity (Morgan 2010). Second, the generalized social upheaval of
the 1960s does not appear to correlate with the dynamics of policy mood measured by
scholars such as MacKuen et. al and Bartle. For instance, radical anti-systemic events
in the US increase throughout the 1960s and decrease rapidly only in the early 1970s.
MacKuen et. al. find that aggregate liberalism (left attitudes) increases over the 1950s,
reaching a high point in the early 1960s, and decreasing throughout the 1960s alongside
the progressive legislation of that period. Third, the non-trivial amount of young adults
who came of age under radical political socialization during the 1960s do not seem to have
continued their lives with stably extreme left-wing attitudes and behaviors. Fourth, the
available evidence of militant anti-systemic events suggests that the mean level of such
behavior was notably higher for the entire available history before the 1970s. Thus, the
1970s inaugurates a secular decrease in formerly (relatively) common political behaviors,
as Figure 1 shows. On each of these four counts, the dynamics of anti-systemic attitudes
and behaviors are anomalous with respect to the conventional wisdom about attitudes
and behaviors in political science.
Typically more focused on comparative or sociological approaches to collective action,
large literatures on contentious politics and social movements have taught us a great
deal about what causes the appearance and disappearance of various forms of collective
opposition. Yet, for various reasons these traditions have not been well-equipped to
theorize, much less account for, the possibility of semi-global secular change in the nature
of political opposition across countries and over time. While it is neither necessary nor
possible to provide a full summary of these highly diverse literatures, I briefly recapitulate
the conventional overview. Early research hypothesized that grievance motivates rebellion,
in particular the highly influential work of Ted Gurr, hypothesized that a key individual-
level factor motivating rebellion was the psychological experience of relative deprivation,
or the “perceived discrepancy between value expectations and value capabilities” (Gurr
1970, 30). When much of the social movement activity of the 1960s seemed to defy these
expectations, a new set of diverse but related studies emerged under what would later
be called resource mobilization theory (Gamson 1975;Oberschall 1973;Tilly 1978). The
5
resource mobilization theorists argued that rebellion was not reducible to psychology but
was a rational collective outcome caused by the distribution of resources, organizational
design, and the opportunity structure obtaining in the political system.
In much of this research, the unit of analysis is the contentious event, social movement,
or, at the most general, the period or “cycle” of opposition (McAdam 1982;Piven and
Cloward 1979;Tilly and Tarrow 2015). Perhaps the most sweepingly general and histor-
ical work within these traditions is that of Tilly, who studies several historical changes
in “repertoires of contention” (1976;2003;Snow et al. 2008). As Tilly explains in his
methodological writings, he is interested in micro-mechanisms (2001). While the theory
developed here will build on Tilly’s framework insofar as it will consider the effects of
context on micro-mechanisms, it will advance this program in two ways. First, because
the historical sweep and power of Tilly and his associates is in their focus on how different
contexts affect micro-mechanisms, leading to different repertoires and dynamics of con-
tention in different times and places, it is at best agnostic about the possibility of epochal
changes affecting the fundamental character of opposition as such. While such a thesis
is not inconsistent with Tilly’s work, for it is effectively to theorize a massive change in
context shaping the micro-mechanisms of opposition, such a thesis is pitched at a level of
analysis (changes in multiple countries over time leading to secular change in opposition
as such) rarely, if ever, broached in this line of work.
Beyond the first waves of resource mobilization theory, analysts developed increasingly
sophisticated combinations of psychological and resource-based theories on increasingly
comprehensive datasets. Collier (2004), for instance, has shown that grievance may be a
necessary condition but resources, such as access to natural resources or exports, appear
key to converting grievance into rebellion. While increasing the theoretical and empirical
sophistication of these long-standing theories has improved our ability to account for
the historical variations, again we find that increased nuance is purchased at the cost of
parsimony and generality. But if general, high-level changes are occurring in unconsidered
ways that are systematically effecting certain properties of opposition in many places for
entire periods, then the explanatory power gained by a novel, parsimonious, high-level
theory may be superior to the explanatory power purchased by increasing the complexity
of multiple older theories. This is the position that will be advanced here.
Yet past and current research that does conceptualize and theorize dynamics of op-
position at the general level of secular change across countries and over time share the
surprisingly common view that the past several decades have been characterized by his-
torically high levels of opposition. An especially notable branch of this tendency is the
now large amount of work on the role of social media in rebellion and the democratization
of authoritarian regimes. The tendency to focus on political demonstrations and other
system-consistent forms of discontent have led to a systematically over-optimistic belief
about the contemporary robustness of political system opposition, in academic (Dalton
et al. 2010) as well as activist and journalistic thinking (Lunghi and Wheeler 2012;Mason
2013). While it is true that in recent years we have observed political demonstrations and
certain other forms of political protest at higher levels than ever, scholars and activists
alike tend to ignore the near extinction of other historically common forms of political
opposition (as I will argue later, this very tendency of scholars and activists to ignore
the disappearance of certain forms of opposition is itself endogenous to the same causal
6
process of pacification I theorize here; in other words, just as fish do not feel wet, scholars
and journalists under-estimate the historical pacification of systemic opposition because
we too have been subject to certain general social processes, such that the extinction of
certain attitudes and behaviors can be experienced by even the most astute observers not
as extinction but as organic growth or evolution of the “repertoire.”)
The Critique of Instrumental Reason: Weber, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School
Given the review of related literature in the social sciences, it is striking that, over the
past century, a diverse set of social theorists have suggested that modernity has been
characterized by a long-term secular decline in certain core human capacities. While the
particular frameworks and the implications of those frameworks have differed, a common
thread between thinkers from Max Weber, to Martin Heidegger, to the Frankfurt School
theorists is a concern that the tendency of modern rationality to objectify the world would
have disastrous consequences for humanity. In other words, whereas human beings are
best seen, normatively as well as empirically, as ends-in-themselves, modernity brings
with it the generalized tendency for human beings to treat themselves merely as means
to other ends.
Three points are remarkable about this lineage. The first is that each is very clear
in the belief that this particular change is one of the most dramatically and significantly
harmful changes in human history. The second is that, in each case, the diagnosis is
explicitly causal. This is surprising given the long-standing association with critical theory
as being non-empirical. Third, in each, technology is seen to have a unique causal role in
the harmful change to humanity. Below I discuss each in greater detail.
Weber Arguably the most important theme in the entire work of Max Weber, one of the
founders of modern social science, is that of rationality (Kalberg 1980). Weber argued
that different societies in different times and places are characterized by different types of
rationality. These can be summarized as practical, theoretical, substantive, and formal.
While they may be combined and layered in various degrees throughout the different
spheres (Lebensbereiche,Lebenssphae) of a society, these represent four distinct ways that
human beings have come to “master fragmented and disconnected realities” (Kalberg 1980,
1148). For present purposes, we are most interested in the difference between practical
and substantive rationality.
“Practical rationality” is the everyday rationality of accommodating oneself to one’s
environment in an optimally efficient and pragmatic manner (Weber 2002,1948). This is
the form of rationality that is ascendant in modernity, in which practical ends unrelated
to larger value considerations are pursued by an increasingly precise calculation of the
optimal means (Weber 1946). In contrast to practical rationality, substantive rational-
ity orders human action into patterns according to some “value postulate. Substantive
rationality can be organized around any value postulate (Weber 1978), but the key dif-
ference is that, whereas practical rationality leads individuals to adapt themselves to a
given, everyday order but seek to shape a given order according to the value postulate. If
practical rationality involves that way of life that seeks to the most effective adaptation to
reality, substantive rationality is that way of life which filters the infinite flow of sense and
7
experience to a set of value criteria which determine what reality is, means, and should
be. Individuals thinking and behaving in a substantively rational manner do not adapt
themselves to a contingent environment but live so as to bring a contingent environment
into line with a value postulate. From outside the particular ethical perspective, the value
postulate of a substantive rationality will always appear more or less irrational.
Weber argues that in the long-run of human history, it is only changes in substantive
rationality, and in particular ethical substantive rationality (when the substance is an
overarching ethical worldview) that are capable of changing the course of world devel-
opments (Weber 2002,1948). Ethical substantive rationality implies a felt obligation to
a certain principle, understood to be categorically binding despite the utilitarian calcu-
lations which would dictate in a practically rational perspective. Practical rationality,
based only on diverse, subjective, egoistic interests, cannot produce methodical ways of
living; we might say that practical rationality cannot oppose, let alone change, the larger
social environment precisely because its characteristic is pragmatically to adjust to that
environment. For example, it is only the ethical substantive rationality of Puritanism
that made it possible for economic activity to break free from the traditional order in a
fashion that would bring a fundamentally new mode of life (capitalism), even if subse-
quently many actors would only participate through practically rational lifestyles. Yet,
all forms of rationality tend to encourage or discourage certain types of action, even to
the point of forcing or foreclosing certain types of action. As he wrote in The Protestant
Ethic, “The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so (Weber 2002).
Closely related to his conceptions of rationality, Weber argued that politics requires
both and ethic of conviction (Gesinnungsethik) and ethic of responsibility (Verantwor-
tungsethik). An ethics of conviction is one of ethical substantive rationality, “this concept
of personality finds its ‘essence’ in the constancy of its inner relation to certain ultimate
‘values’ and ‘meanings’ of life” (Kalberg 1980)“. An ethics of responsibility is on the side
of practical rationality, with which a political actor is most concerned to achieve given
ends as surely and effectively as possible. Weber was clear that the”true human being
who is capable of having a ‘vocation for politics”’ had to combine both through the force
of their will (Kalberg 1980).
To Weber, the long-term historical trends he identified in the dynamics of rational-
ization, capitalism, and the political capacities of human being were remarkably bleak,
although not necessarily unstoppable. Weber was clear that, in his view, the increasing
rationalization of the world was leading to the increasing de-magification or “disenchant-
ment” of the world. He saw two main problems, both of which are based on the obser-
vation that de-magification brought with it a declining capacity to maintain substantive
rationality around ultimate values. The first is the disappearing capacity for principled
political action based on ethical substantive rationality. While he was normatively am-
bivalent about de-magification, seeing that it could be put to desirable and undesirable
ends (recalling Heidegger, who discusses the neutrality of techne), he was was gravely
concerned that “the ultimate, most sublime values have retreated from the public sphere”
(Weber 2007). Weber disagreed with the line of Protestant thought that believed the
instrumentalism and materialism of modern society was only a “light cloak” that could
be dispensed with over time. He thought “Fate decreed that the cloak should become
an iron cage (Kalberg 1980). The second problem, also based on the declining capacity
8
for value-rationality, is the consequent value-fragmentation in which all would become a
matter of ungrounded, subjective tastes. Weber believed that “since Nietzsche, we realize
that something can be beautiful, not only in spite of the aspect in which it is not good,
but rather in that very aspect. Value judgments (Werturteile) would now be reduced to
matters of taste (Geschmacksurteile).
Weber believed, then, that the wholeness and integrity of human beings was declining
since the time of the Reformation. There Weber saw in the Puritan individual an “unbro-
ken whole,” buoyed by the psychological premium earned through a life of integrity, but
in his own day he sincerely feared the extinction of ethical political conviction and action
(Maley 2004). Interestingly, we note that Weber called this disappearing type of person
by many names in his different works: “person of vocation” (Berufsmensch), “personal-
ity” (PersÃűnlichkeit), “genuine politician” (Berufspolitiker), or “charismatic individual”
(Kim 2012).
What is the role of technology in Weber’s perspective? For Weber, the key techno-
logical innovation of modernity is bureaucracy (Maley 2004). Bureaucratization refers to
governance through formal relationships, a system of rules and norms, and apolitical pro-
fessional bureaucrats working under a rigid division of labor. Weber was fairly unguarded
in his belief that the bureaucratization of the world was diminishing individual freedom
and action, and that it could potentially squelch it once and for all. He writes that it may
produce a “shell of bondage” making people “as powerless as the fellahs of ancient Egypt
(Weber 1978, 1402). “No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether
at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will
be a great rebirth of old ideas, or, if neither, mechanized petrification. . . . For of the
last stage of this cultural development, it might truly be said: ‘Specialists without spirit,
sensualists without heart (182).
As technology becomes more sophisticated, we understand less about how it works
(Weber 1975, 139, as cited in Maley (2004, 72)). Here again we think of Heidegger, who
believed that the way of revealing characteristic of modern technology was threatening
to conceal other, more fundamental ways of revealing, holding out the possibility of an
absolute alienation of humanity from itself and the world.
Heidegger To Heidegger, modern technology is a revealing (Heidegger 2013, 14).3Yet
modern technology does not bring forth as in poiesis, but is rather a challenging (Heraus-
fordern), “which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy that can
be extracted and stored as such. This is distinct from pre-modern technology, such as the
windmill, which does not “unlock energy” from air currents “in order to store it,” but only
channels that energy “left entirely from the wind’s blowing. Modern technology, as in
fossil-fuel extraction, challenges the land to provide exploitable resources; the earth thus
“reveals itself as a coal mining district, the soil as a mineral deposit. Importantly, this
setting-upon that challenges nature is an expediting (Fordern), for two reasons. First, it
unlocks and exposes. It is always directed toward “furthering something else,” extrinsi-
cally motivated or, in a word, instrumental. Here Heidegger uses the language of capitalist
efficiency, “maximum yield at the minimum expense. The challenged-forth materials are
3All of the discussion here refers to this text.
9
not challenged-forth simply for them to be made present elsewhere, but so that they may
be “on call,” ready to be placed into the service of increasingly distant, instrumental
purposes (to become steam, to run a factory, and so on).
As we will see, it is notable that Heidegger describes modern technology with the
same vocabulary that his scientific contemporaries are using to formalize the nature of
information and computing systems at the same time of his writing. When he writes
that “energy concealed in nature is unlocked, what is unlocked is transformed, what is
transformed is stored up, what is stored up is, in turn, distributed, and what is distributed
is switched about ever anew,” he might just as well be describing encryption and encoding,
electrical transformers, hard drives, networks, and packet-switching. The key difference
is that for Heidegger, all of these are most importantly ways of revealing, in contrast to
computer scientists, for whom these are only technical mechanisms to be formalized and
engineered. In fact, this revealing of modern technology reveals to itself its own “paths,
by regulating their course. This regulating itself is “everywhere secured,” so much so
that regulating and securing become the “chief characteristics” of modern technology’s
challenging revealing. In this light, the mathematicians and computer scientists who are
laying the foundation for the information revolution at the time of Heidegger’s writing are
exemplars of precisely this regulating and securing, working to formally reveal the paths
of formal revealing directly in the interests of regulating and securing them, insofar as
the discoveries of information theory were not most significantly gains in knowledge but
gains in the efficiency of learning new knowledge, pursued explicitly under the aegis of
competitive, national war efforts.
What kind of unconcealment could this be? Everything ordered about in this way is
presenced as “standing-reserve,” it is ordered to “stand there just so that it may be on
call for a further ordering. The term connotes a transformation in which something that
once stood “over against” us is made to assume “the rank of an inclusive rubric,” on “call
for duty” to whatever instrumental purpose it is directed.
It is here that Heidegger moves, indirectly, to a discussion of causal relations. Hei-
degger is clear that man is not the original cause of that challenging forth of modern
technology, for man does not have control over unconcealment, but can only respond to
what addresses itself to him. This means that it is only to the degree man is already
challenged to exploit nature that the ordering revealing of nature into standing-reserve
can occur. Citing the discourse of “human resources,” Heidegger claims that man him-
self already belongs “even more originally than nature within the standing-reserve. It is
because man is challenged more originally than nature that he “never is transformed into
mere standing-reserve,” but is rather “claimed” or “gathered” or set-upon to order the
real as standing-reserve. What causes man to order the real as standing-reserve is what
Heidegger calls Enframing (Ge-stell). Enframing connotes a frame, apparatus, skeleton,
or framework and it refers to an “unconcealment that comes to pass in conformity with
which the work of modern technology reveals the the real as standing-reserve. Again,
we are struck by explicitly causal and historical claims. Many will naturally believe that
modern technology could only unfold after it gained the support of exact physical sciences,
but Heidegger claims the opposite is true. Heidegger claims that “man’s ordering atti-
tude and behavior” first appear in the rise of modern physics as an exact science. Modern
physics “entraps” nature as a calculable coherence of forces. It does not use experimental
10
method as a certain way of questioning the forces of nature; nature is first set upon to
reveal itself as a coherence of calculable forces, experimental method is then ordered to
ask what nature can report. In other words, technology causes the development of sci-
ence. Yet how could this be the case given that mathematical physics appears to arise
two centuries before modern technology? Heidegger explains that modern physics is only
a “herald” of Enframing, but the enframing that is modern technology is itself everywhere
and always concealed. This is because all coming to presence, all of that which is “pri-
mally early” in the holding sway of a particular revealing, cannot show itself until after
it has come to pass.
Importantly, he draws a parallel from Ge-stell to GemÃijt or “disposition,” as “that
original gathering from which unfold the ways in which we have feelings of one kind
or another. In summary, modern technology is an ordering revealing that shifts man’s
behavior from that of the peasant who non-challengingly “takes care of” and maintain[s]”
the field toward the modern man who orders the real as standing-reserve; given the explicit
textual link and that Heidegger’s method relies so much on the play of appearances and
attitudes, modern technology should also be understood as affecting man’s disposition
(GemÃijt) or the way in which feelings unfold (this is probably so implicitly obvious that
it would have been trivial and needless to state.) Curiously, in a later passage, Heidegger
refers to man’s “ordering attitude and behavior,” (21) offering us another explicit bridge
to empirical political science.
Enframing therefore “dictates” that scientists “resign” to a relationship with the world
in which “nature reports itself in some way or other that is identifiable through calcula-
tion and that it remains orderable as a system of information. This system is determined,
then, out of a causality that has changed once again. Causality now displays neither
the character of the occasioning that brings forth nor the nature of the causa efficiens,
let alone that of the causa formalis. It seems as though causality is shrinking into a
reporting–a reporting challenged forth–of standing-reserves that must be guaranteed ei-
ther simultaneously or in sequence. To this shrinking would correspond the process of
growing resignation that Heisengberg’s lecture depicts in so impressive a manner (23)”.
Whereas the study of causality could be the study of those occasionings that bring forth,
or the identification of causa efficiens or causa formalis, modern technology causes our
conception of causality to narrow into a mere reporting of how standing-reserves have been
challenged forth. Here we see clearly that Heidegger is offering an argument about the
effects of modern technology not orthogonal to but directly and explicitly on the grounds
of, and within the criteria, of empirical, scientific method: the problem with modern
social science would not be that it overemphasizes causal relations, but rather that it is
insufficiently causal because it is structurally blinded by the enframing that causes it but
to which it uncritically subordinates itself.
But what starts us “upon the way of that revealing through which the real everywhere,
more or less distinctly, becomes standing-reserve?” Heidegger calls it a “destining. “En-
framing is an ordaining of a destining, as is every way of revealing. Artistic creation or
poiesis would also be a destining. The point is crucial because “the destining of revealing
holds complete sway over man,” and yet, it is “never a fate that compels. Human freedom
can consist only in belonging to, listening and hearing, one’s destining rather than being
forced to obey (25). By coming to see the essence of technology, we learn that we do not
11
need to carry on in the “stultified compulsion to push on blindly” or to “rebel helplessly
against it. On the contrary, we find a “freeing claim. As it stands, man is “continually
approaching the brink of the possibility of pursuing and pushing forward nothing but
what is revealed in ordering, and of deriving all his standards on this basis. Through this
the other possibility is blocked, that man might be admitted more and sooner and ever
more primally to the essence of that which is unconcealed and to its unconcealment, in
order that he might experience as his essence his needed belonging to revealing. This
is why destining is not only dangerous, but is danger as such, for it may lead man to
misinterpret everything that is. Where everything is seen in a “cause-effect coherence,”
all that is exalted, holy, or mysterious will be lost. In Weber’s words, the disenchantment
of the world. Interestingly, however, Heidegger’s framework does not see this primarily
as an ethical, moral or “normative” problem; it is a problem of theoretical and empirical
inaccuracy, in which historically variable phenomena (modern technology) causes essen-
tial causes to be misspecified. Modern science may of course produce and collect “correct
determinations,” but these very successes will increase the likelihood that in the midst of
“all that is correct, the true will withdraw.
Heidegger is emphatic that when destining occurs as Enframing, it is “the supreme
danger. Heidegger adduces two pieces of evidence. First, if we reach a point where every-
thing can only be related to as standing-reserve, and man can therefore be nothing more
than its orderer, we would be on the “brink of a precipitous fall” because man himself
would become standing-reserve at the very same time man he would implicitly be “lord
of the earth. Heidegger thinks this then leads to the false belief that everything man
encounters is a social construction, once again scrambling conventional distinctions in
the social sciences. Whereas today “social constructivism” is typically opposed to causal
identification, as it tends to be seen as a more critical, philosophically, and normatively
sophisticated alternative to hard-nosed positivism, here Heidegger is arguing that the
“social constructivist” is an equally false counterpart to the fetish for modeling causal
correlations; Heidegger’s work is offered as an account that is philosophically and em-
pirically superior to both, orthogonal to their false and doomed way of setting upon the
world in the first place. This leads to the horror in which man everywhere and always
encounters only himself, but because of this, he never encounters himself essentially. He
loses the capacity to hear, to experience himself as the one spoken to by the claim that
Enframing makes. Notably, we should take Heidegger literally where he claims that al-
ready, “nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself. Heidegger shares with
Weber and Adorno the suspicion that, even by the time of their writing, everything is
perhaps already lost.
Even beyond the prospect of an absolute alienation from oneself and everything that
exists, the supreme danger is also evident in the prospect of being banished into lifetimes
of mere ordering. Wherever this ordering holds sway, it “drives out” all other ways of
revealing. In short, Heidegger’s phenomenology shows that Enframing precludes the basic
capacity to see what is presencing come into appearance, in the sense of bringing-forth
or poiesis. In another quite straightforwardly testable hypothesis, Heidegger seems to be
arguing that modern technology directly decreases our capacity to experience the sincere
appreciation of an art work, for instance, or to witness, much less participate in, the
becoming of an other. To the degree Enframing holds sway, regulating and securing of
12
standing-reserve comes to taint all revealing. “People will no longer even let their own
fundamental characteristic appear, namely, this revealing as such (27). It seems that the
reason this destining of revealing is not just a danger, but danger as such, is because only
at the level of destining can errors or biases become structurally barred to correction.
Modern technology’s way of revealing leads to a long-term and potentially irrevocable,
path-dependent, society-wide bias in our most basic experiences of the world. One could
hypothesize, for instance, that the degree to which regulating and securing preoccupies
each generation should increase with the onset of modern technology.
The Frankfurt School For most of its history, the concept of reason referred to not
only certain mental operations but a certain consistency or order among human minds
and the objective world at large. Horkheimer calls this “objective reason” (Horkheimer
2013, 4). This concept of reason involved developing systematic sense out of objective
existence, including large questions about the meaning and purpose of the universe. Im-
portantly, objective reason implied that the “degree of reasonableness of a man’s life could
be determined according to its harmony with this totality. Over the course of centuries
at the onset of modernity, the ends start to become defined by the economic system.
“In the industrial age, the idea of self-interest gradually gained the upper hand and fi-
nally suppressed the other motives considered fundamental to the functioning of society
(Horkheimer 2013, 19). This sets into motion a process in which everything becomes to-
talized into what Herbert Marcuse would call a”one dimensional” world (Marcuse 1991).
Reason itself becomes only an instrument subordinated to the production process. Reason
today is overwhelmingly reduced to “subjective reason”, which is simply the calculation
of means best suited to given ends, a concern “with the adequacy of procedures, for pur-
poses more or less taken for granted and supposedly self-explanatory (Horkheimer 2013,
3). Similar to Weber’s diagnosis of value-fragmentation, the predominance of subjective
reason at the cost of objective reason allows individuals’ ends to become increasingly
disparate.
More specifically, one of the fundamental dimensions of modern historical change has
to do with an increasing separation or detachment of human emotions and experiences
and the official public version of reality. Aphorism 79 in Minima Moralia provides a fairly
straightforward summary of this idea (Adorno 2005). The objectification of the world
creates a severing of desire and cognition. Desires, feelings, memories, are tolerated as
merely private factors but with respect to serious politics tabooed as irrational. Imagina-
tion is necessary for judgment, but increasingly treated as an irrational childish faculty.
But this leads to a “breakdown of the historical dimension of consciousness. In this
process, actual independent judgments are exorcised. In this way, even perceptions are
castrated because, denied any room for desire, they find no motivation and simply rely
on what is familiar. When Adorno argues that for this reason, nothing new is allowed
to be seen, we recall Heidegger’s diagnosis of modern technology as concealing revealing
itself. In the Frankfurt School we find a vocabulary updated by modern developments in
the social sciences.
Adorno and Horkheimer often stress the causal role of the economy. In the above
aphorism, for instance, he says that, just as “under the unrestrained primacy of the
13
production process, the wherefore of reason disappears,” it also “reduces itself down to an
instrument and comes to resemble its functionaries, whose thought-apparatus only serves
the purpose, of hindering thought. Both are emphatic that their diagnosis holds true
at the aggregate level of modern Western societies as such. A “question of wide-ranging
tendencies,” writes Adorno (aphorism 79). Words such as “absolute” and “total” appear
frequently throughout these works.
One observable result is that new types of humans are being produced. In the roles
that were once occupied by dissenters generating discord and counter-pressure against
the institutions, now appear those who sincerely desire the compulsion and restriction
(aphorism 80). We note that fairly explicit causal mechanisms are put forward, but
they are diverse. One mechanism is psychological: Because the production process is so
constraining of the individual, thinking represents an intolerable subjective responsibility
which they must renounce, as if the cognitive/emotional load or dissonance would be too
much to bear. Another mechanism has to do with how the effectiveness of capitalism in
“delivering the goods” essentially purchases the subject’s ethical capitulation (Marcuse
1991). Even individuals who seek to protest or rebel against the political system, are
by the very machinations of that system, opaquely induced toward complicity. Whether
in the extreme right-wing perversion of fascism or the instrumentally adapted left-wing
perversion of principled opposition, opposition to the status quo becomes fundamentally
distorted:
. . . whereas the unconscious colossus of real existence, subjectless capitalism,
inflicts its destruction blindly, the deludedly rebellious subject is willing to see
that destruction as its fulfillment, and, together with the biting cold it emits
toward human beings misused as things, it also radiates the perverted love
which, in the world of things, takes the place of love in its immediacy. Sick-
ness becomes the symptom of recovery. In transfiguring the victims, delusion
accepts their degradation. It makes itself resemble the monster of domination
which it cannot physically overcome (Horkheimer and Adorno 1997, 89).
Further, Adorno claims this is happening also in modern science: the modern scientist
does not have to contort their being to do their work, for they are already and sincerely
administrators of their own selves. The official prohibition on true thinking is not felt as
oppressive but a much valued relief, for these are types who have already foregone the
challenge of finding a voice or language to make the inner and outer life cohere. In other
words, institutional markets select for the most compliant types, and the prohibition on
thinking is “raised publicly to a moral service. In this way, the intellectual energy of
compliant intellectuals in the instrumental mold is amplified by institutional mechanisms
of control. “It is not that life is being deformed, it is that what it means to live is itself
becoming closer and closer to death: ‘The will to live sees itself referred to the repudiation
of the will to live: self-preservation annuls life in subjectivity.
Institutions do not only constrain individuals in specific sectors, but rather a pacifi-
cation of thinking in any one part of society has an effect on its aggregate “complexion”
(aphorism 126). Once thought is reduced to the solution of assigned tasks, even what
is not assigned will ultimately come to be treated as a task. Thought no longer trusts
14
itself and is constantly offering its usefulness. Non-instrumental considerations come to
be seen as vain, overblown, “asocial self-satisfaction. Thoughts become signals of how
informed or respectable is the speaker of them. Adorno is clear that oppositional thought
is becoming impossible because, not only are oppositional individuals being replaced by
compliant types, but even those who wish to be oppositional are “crippled” and unable
to do so because they have such little experience and practice engaging in thought for
thought’s sake, but they have been forced meanwhile to function as the “exam-authority”
of themselves. Whereas in previous eras thought internalized obligations imposed from
the outside, now its capacities are so channeled from youth that it performs, produces, and
enforces the status quo order even before it flowers autonomously enough to be crushed
by the economic and political reality (aphorism 126).
Adorno gives some clues as to the observable markers of this process. One is in psy-
chology, or what we might now call mental health. Adorno believes that the affect of
the totalizing society on the individual psyche leads to the psychotic character that is
the basis of totalitarian mass movements. But he also provides some more tractable ex-
pectations. One has to do with a historical change from individual-level specificity or
fixity toward behavioral flexibility, “the transition from fixed characteristics to pushbut-
ton modes of behavior – seemingly enlivening – is the expression of the rising organic
composition of human beings. Quick reactions do not reflect spontaneity but rather an
individual submitting themselves to being measured and read by “the center. Here we
find an interesting theoretical reason to explore whether survey response time changes
systematically over time, or could perhaps be predictable as a function of variables we
would expect to cause individual-level subjection or integration.
The diffusion and dominance of subjective reason makes the idea of anti-systemic re-
sistance unintelligible, or if intelligible, unconvincing and untrustworthy. This is because,
by relating everything back to personal interests, subjective reason suppresses the capac-
ity for individuals to collectively attune themselves to the larger reality of their situation.
“If a group of enlightened people were about to fight even the greatest evil imaginable,
subjective reason would make it almost impossible to point simply to the nature of the
evil and to the nature of humanity, which make the fight imperative. Many would at once
ask what the real motives are. It would have to be asserted that the reasons are realistic,
that is to say, correspond to personal interests, even though, for the mass of the people,
these latter may be more difficult to grasp than the silent appeal of the situation itself
(Horkheimer 2013, 41).
A Hypothesis This section builds on the previous section to propose a testable hypothe-
sis regarding the puzzling decline of anti-systemic attitudes and behaviors since the 1970s.
While the theorists reviewed above employ very different vocabularies and have different
interests and arguments, they all shared a belief in the hypothesis that certain techno-
logical developments characteristic of modernity have caused a decline in the capacity
of human beings to think and act politically out of a commitment to objective truths.
Specifically, based on my stylized summary of their perspective, I theorize that the rise
of modern technological rationality has tended to shift human attitudes and practices
from a pre-modern, principled and substantive rationality to a compliant, instrumental
15
rationality incapable of principled opposition and ethical political action against political
systems as such. I believe that this theory helps to explain why radical political opposition
decreased in so many countries around the world in the 1970s.
To make this general perspective a testable hypothesis, we must delimit and opera-
tionalize the variable that I have so far been calling “modern technology. One of the
most theoretically and empirically attractive ways to operationalize “modern technology”
is with the rise of “mass media. Mass media technology–i.e., newspapers, radios, and
televisions–are a theoretically attractive measure of “modern technology” because they
are explicitly theorized as such by the Frankfurt School and because recent empirical
research provides evidence of the pacifying power of the media. Empirically, operational-
izing modern technology with mass media in particular is attractive because there exists
ample empirical data on mass media penetration across a large number of countries for
most of the period since World War II, precisely the level of analysis, geographic range,
and time period pertinent to the empirical puzzle outlined above.
Theorizing mass media technology as a pacifying force is counter to a certain tradition
in research on the media-protest nexus. Many have argued that the presence of mass
media increases violent, anti-systemic behavior, either by increasing the perceived payoffs
to dramatic, sensational acts (Morgan 2010) or by effecting a contagion of anti-systemic
behavior if and when incidents do arise (Wilkinson 2009). Yet a problem with this per-
spective is that mass media typically portrays militant forms of protest in a negative
light (Morgan 2010, 210, 215). Thus, while media may, at some margins, incentivize
anti-systemic behaviors or lower the perceived threshold for action by transmitting in-
formation about previous occurrences, I focus on the long-term effect of mass media on
anti-systemic attitudes and behaviors.
Various recent findings in empirical social science are consistent with this perspective.
In particular, a series of studies suggest that modern media connectivity pacifies political
opposition. For instance, Hassanpour exploits exogenous internet disruption in Egypt to
show that collective contention based on direct, local organizing is more radical than high-
connectivity organizing facilitated by the web (Hassanpour 2014). While Hassanpour’s
theory is based on an informal network model, showing that the influence of radicals is
relatively weakened by high connectivity, this finding is also consistent with social move-
ment research which suggests that close personal ties are necessary for high-risk action
(Lichbach 1998;Della Porta 1988;Laitin 1995;Wickham-Crowley 1989). Kern and Hain-
mueller (2009) exploit exogenous variation in the topography of Germany to show that
Western television broadcasts that entered East Germany made citizens living under the
authoritarian government more content with their situation and less likely to seek exit. Fi-
nally, Warren (2014) argues that mass media give to incumbent governments economies of
scale in the production of symbols, thereby increasing loyalty in the masses and decreasing
the likelihood of civil war onset, which he demonstrates using cross-national time-series
data at the country level. All of these studies are specific, empirically tractable demon-
strations of different dimensions within the more sweeping perspective running through
Weber, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School: modern technology integrates individuals’
attitudes and behaviors into consistency with the political system.
We can now summarize the foregoing considerations into a specific hypothesis.
16
H1: The more densely a country is penetrated by mass media, the less preva-
lent will anti-systemic political contention be relative to the country’s total
contentiousness.
Data and Method
I pursue a mixed-methods research design. In a first stage, I estimate a series of regression
models assessing the correlation between media penetration and both the occurrence and
count of contentious events. If H1 is correct, we should expect the correlation of mass
media and anti-systemic events to be negative or at least null but less positive than
that between mass media and within-system events. When modeling occurrence, the
dependent variable takes a value of zero if the event did not occur at all, and a one if
the event occurred any number of times greater than zero. For these dependent variables,
I estimate traditional logistic regressions. When modeling the number of events, I use
raw counts as the dependent variable. For these dependent variables, I estimate negative
binomial models. In a second stage, I use matching to quantitatively identify two countries
with the highest degree of similarity on observed confounders but a large difference in
media density (Nielsen 2014).
For the quantitative analyses, I use the data of Banks and Wilson (2005) on mass media
penetration and contentious political events for all available country years. Event counts
are derived from New York Times reportage. Following Warren (2014), to measure mass
media penetration I use an index of media density (MDI ) that is the sum of newspapers,
radios, and televisions, divided by the population. Specifically, I use the lag of MDI, as a
causal hypothesis implies and to mitigate endogeneity. A number of control variables are
also included in the analysis. As the effect of democracy on radical forms of contention
is known to be non-linear, I include the Polity IV measure of democracy and its square
(Bethke and Bussmann 2011). Population refers to the population count, and Urban
refers to the percentage of the population living in cities, both of which come from Banks
and Wilson. I also include Ethnic Fractionalization and Religious Fractionalization, which
refer to the widely-used indices developed by Fearon and Laitin (2003). Trade,GDP Per
Capita, and Growth (in GDP per capita) refer to the longest available time-series for these
variables, from Sorens and Ruger (2012). Also from Sorens and Ruger, the variable War
takes a value of one if the country is involved in a war and zero otherwise. For all of the
main models, I use a cubic polynomial of time since the last event, to model and control
for autocorrelation (Carter and Signorino 2010). Region dummy variables are included in
the models but not displayed for space constraints. I limit the sample to countries with
at least ten observations. Summary statistics are displayed in Table 1.
Analysis
As the coefficients in Table 2 show, mass media density is associated with an increased
probability of at least one strike occurring and a decreased probability of at least one
instance of guerrilla warfare occurring. Although mass media is not statistically associ-
ated with the occurrence of one or more riots or demonstrations, this first set of models
17
Variable n Min e
x ¯x Max s
Guerrilla Warfare 9409 0.0 0.0 0.2 34.0 0.8
Riots 9409 0.0 0.0 0.5 55.0 1.9
Strikes 9409 0.0 0.0 0.1 13.0 0.5
Demonstrations 9409 0.0 0.0 0.5 74.0 2.2
MDI 4365 0.9 32.8 54.6 313.3 55.9
GDP Per Capita 6853 400.0 3873.1 9427.1 632239.5 20748.2
Democracy 6896 -10.0 0.0 0.7 10.0 7.5
Democracy Squared 6896 -2.2 0.0 0.0 2.2 1.2
Population 6968 0.1 8.2 34.1 1324.4 118.8
Urban 10698 0.0 123.0 161.4 3847.0 169.4
Year 12845 1815.0 1968.0 1950.0 2012.0 52.6
Trade 6889 0.3 59.8 67.9 333.5 40.4
War 6912 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.0 0.4
Religious Fract. 6859 0.0 0.4 0.4 0.8 0.2
Ethnic Fract. 6859 0.0 0.4 0.4 0.9 0.3
Table 1: Summary Statistics
nonetheless indicates a relative shift in contentious activity as predicted. As the coeffi-
cients in Table 3 show, the associations between media density and the number of events
are similar to those found in the logistic regressions. Media density has a negative asso-
ciation with the count of instances of guerrilla war, a positive association with the count
of strikes, and no association with the count of riots. Media density also has a positive
association with the count of demonstrations, furnishing additional evidence that media
density shifts contentiousness toward within-system forms. As model coefficients are not
readily interpretable, I consider a series of simulations using the R package Zelig to gain
a better sense of the estimated effect sizes. Each figure represents the expected values
from 1000 simulations per model, for various values of media density.
Matched Cases: Bolivia and Haiti in the 1980s
To further test the hypothesis and better understand the data, I sought two cases as similar
as possible on key confounders but with different levels of media density. I conducted
the analysis within regions to control for long-term historical differences across regions. I
restricted the matching to the year 1980 and optimized balance on the covariates included
in the regressions analysis, level of democracy (Polity IV), GDP per capita, population
level, war, urban population, international trade as a percentage of GDP. I also consider
and report balance on other potential confounders, including inward FDI, whether the
state has large oil reserves, and press freedom. The highest degree of balance while
maximizing variance in mass media density was found in Latin America, specifically with
the cases of Bolivia and Haiti.
Figure 7 plots the key variables of interest over time in Bolivia and Haiti. As the
figure shows, Bolivia saw mass media density increase throughout the 1980s, notably
more so than Haiti. Consistent with the theory developed here, Haiti saw a greater
share of anti-systemic contention than Bolivia. To gauge the covariate balance for Bolivia
and Haiti, Table 4 shows the values of each covariate for each country, and Figure 7
provides a visual assessment of the two countries’ differences relative to the cross-national
18
Riots Guerrilla Strikes Demos
(Intercept) 159.23 (14.20)∗∗∗ 88.85 (11.79)∗∗∗ 218.56 (19.55)∗∗∗ 166.15 (13.64)∗∗∗
MDI 0.21 (0.22) 0.61 (0.32)0.60 (0.27)0.25 (0.20)
GDP Per Capita 1.07 (0.37)∗∗ 0.61 (0.57) 0.77 (0.53) 0.87 (0.32)∗∗
Democracy 0.32 (0.15)0.22 (0.17) 0.88 (0.18)∗∗∗ 0.23 (0.13)
Democracy Squared 0.25 (0.13)0.27 (0.14)0.15 (0.16) 0.10 (0.12)
Population 0.31 (0.11)∗∗ 0.15 (0.14) 0.09 (0.16) 0.38 (0.11)∗∗∗
Urban 0.57 (0.15)∗∗∗ 0.22 (0.20) 0.44 (0.18)0.66 (0.14)∗∗∗
Year 1.93 (0.80)1.18 (0.76) 5.13 (0.94)∗∗∗ 4.74 (0.73)∗∗∗
Trade 0.55 (0.16)∗∗∗ 0.39 (0.18)0.82 (0.21)∗∗∗ 0.37 (0.14)∗∗
War 0.04 (0.16) 1.15 (0.17)∗∗∗ 0.16 (0.18) 0.09 (0.15)
Religious Fract. 0.45 (0.15)∗∗ 0.31 (0.18)0.88 (0.19)∗∗∗ 0.47 (0.14)∗∗∗
Ethnic Fract. 0.08 (0.14) 0.14 (0.17) 0.60 (0.18)∗∗∗ 0.06 (0.14)
Years since last riot (1) 38151.75 (3449.93)∗∗∗
Years since last riot (2) 17988.80 (1618.62)∗∗∗
Years since last riot (3) 4898.72 (417.37)∗∗∗
Years since last guerrilla (1) 21311.13 (2876.28)∗∗∗
Years since last guerrilla (2) 11656.29 (1531.10)∗∗∗
Years since last guerrilla (3) 3617.71 (412.58)∗∗∗
Years since last strike (1) 49601.61 (4541.51)∗∗∗
Years since last strike (2) 22519.46 (2061.00)∗∗∗
Years since last strike (3) 5852.23 (523.26)∗∗∗
Years since last demo. (1) 38423.56 (3206.80)∗∗∗
Years since last demo. (2) 17916.50 (1490.46)∗∗∗
Years since last demo. (3) 4833.16 (383.47)∗∗∗
AIC 2473.63 1837.93 1839.64 2768.24
BIC 2610.49 1974.79 1976.50 2905.10
Log Likelihood -1214.81 -896.97 -897.82 -1362.12
Deviance 2429.63 1793.93 1795.64 2724.24
Num. obs. 3718 3718 3718 3718
∗∗∗p < 0.001, ∗∗p < 0.01, p < 0.05, p < 0.1
Table 2: Logistic Regression Models
19
Riots Guerrilla Strikes Demos
(Intercept) 99.83 (10.75)∗∗∗ 47.28 (9.02)∗∗∗ 145.18 (15.16)∗∗∗ 113.03 (10.05)∗∗∗
MDI 0.12 (0.17) 0.38 (0.22)0.69 (0.22)∗∗ 0.32 (0.14)
GDP Per Capita 1.32 (0.31)∗∗∗ 1.10 (0.48)1.53 (0.49)∗∗ 1.21 (0.27)∗∗∗
Democracy 0.31 (0.11)∗∗ 0.19 (0.11)0.40 (0.14)∗∗ 0.01 (0.09)
Democracy Squared 0.30 (0.10)∗∗ 0.06 (0.09) 0.14 (0.12) 0.34 (0.09)∗∗∗
Population 0.21 (0.07)∗∗ 0.04 (0.08) 0.04 (0.11) 0.19 (0.06)∗∗
Urban 0.70 (0.12)∗∗∗ 0.31 (0.14)0.51 (0.14)∗∗∗ 0.64 (0.10)∗∗∗
Year 0.27 (0.58) 2.20 (0.50)∗∗∗ 1.72 (0.71)1.44 (0.47)∗∗
Trade 0.57 (0.12)∗∗∗ 0.51 (0.14)∗∗∗ 0.67 (0.16)∗∗∗ 0.36 (0.10)∗∗∗
War 0.15 (0.11) 0.32 (0.11)∗∗ 0.18 (0.14) 0.05 (0.10)
Religious Fract. 0.24 (0.11)0.03 (0.12) 0.71 (0.15)∗∗∗ 0.40 (0.10)∗∗∗
Ethnic Fract. 0.07 (0.11) 0.14 (0.11) 0.25 (0.13)0.01 (0.09)
Years since last riot (1) 23917.54 (2614.44)∗∗∗
Years since last riot (2) 11228.16 (1225.96)∗∗∗
Years since last riot (3) 3006.78 (313.85)∗∗∗
Years since last guerrilla (1) 11160.74 (2201.56)∗∗∗
Years since last guerrilla (2) 6092.91 (1169.70)∗∗∗
Years since last guerrilla (3) 1946.33 (311.71)∗∗∗
Years since last strike (1) 32785.42 (3531.25)∗∗∗
Years since last strike (2) 14865.49 (1603.50)∗∗∗
Years since last strike (3) 3816.80 (405.85)∗∗∗
Years since last demo. (1) 26215.82 (2363.78)∗∗∗
Years since last demo. (2) 12206.46 (1097.98)∗∗∗
Years since last demo. (3) 3239.99 (280.30)∗∗∗
AIC 5422.67 3272.50 2974.00 6407.65
BIC 5565.76 3415.58 3117.08 6550.73
Log Likelihood -2688.34 -1613.25 -1464.00 -3180.83
Deviance 2057.32 1526.16 1499.42 2430.13
Num. obs. 3718 3718 3718 3718
∗∗∗p < 0.001, ∗∗p < 0.01, p < 0.05, p < 0.1
Table 3: Negative Binomial Models
Table 4: Assessing Balance of Haiti and Bolivia in 1980
Country Polity IV GDP PC. Trade FDI (In) Pop. Eth. Fract. Rel. Fract. Urban
Bolivia -4 874 47.000 12.000 5.400 0.680 0.095 254
Haiti -9 283 43.000 5.700 5.400 0.014 0.330 172
War, oil, and press freedom are zero for both cases.
20
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4
Riot Occurrence
Range of Media Density Index
Expected Values: E(Y|X)
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4
Guerrilla Occurrence
Range of Media Density Index
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4
Demo Occurrence
Range of Media Density Index
Expected Values: E(Y|X)
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4
Strike Occurrence
Range of Media Density Index
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
Figure 5: Simulated Effect of Media on Event Occurrence
21
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4
Riot Count
Range of Media Density Index
Expected Values: E(Y|X)
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10
Guerrilla Count
Range of Media Density Index
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4
Demo Count
Range of Media Density Index
Expected Values: E(Y|X)
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
−0.5 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4
Strike Count
Range of Media Density Index
median
ci95
ci90
ci99
Figure 6: Simulated Effect of Media on Event Counts
22
Bolivia
Haiti
−1
0
1
2
3
4
1975 1978 1980 1982 19851975 1978 1980 1982 1985
Year
Guerrilla warfare
Rioting General strikes
Demonstrations Media density
Figure 7: Matched Cases
23
EthnicFractionalization
UrbanPopulation
InwardFDI
Trade
GDP
Oil
PressFreedom
War
Population
ReligiousFractionalization
−2 0 2
Country Differences (in Standard Deviations)
Variable
Legend
Haiti < Bolivia
Haiti > Bolivia
Covariate Balance for Haiti and Bolivia in 1980
Figure 8: Visualizing Covariate Balance for Bolivia and Haiti in 1980
24
historical variance of each variable. Haiti and Bolivia are relatively balanced on potential
confounders, with the exceptions of religious and ethnic fractionalization. As we have no
strong theoretical priors for how these covariates affect the composition of contentious
protest activity, and no particular reason for expecting that they would have opposite
effects, we can say that Bolivia and Haiti are roughly balanced by moderate but different
forms of fractionalization. While a more thorough qualitative comparison of these cases
must be left to future research, this within-case exploration of two optimally matched
cases provides some additional support for the hypothesis.
Conclusion
This article introduces, and empirically characterizes, a peculiar fact about twentieth-
century patterns of political contention. In the first two thirds of the twentieth century,
militant, anti-systemic forms of contention such as riots and guerrilla wars are more
common than within-system forms of contention such as demonstrations and strikes. Yet
beginning in the early 1970s, the pattern changes as militant, anti-systemic forms of
contention decline rapidly and substantially relative to within-system forms of contention.
Using survey data from the early rounds of the Eurobarometer, I find a similar pattern
in attitudes toward revolutionary political change. I demonstrate that the pacification
of radical oppositional attitudes and behaviors is a surprisingly widespread phenomena,
occurring in most countries for which we have data.
While the dominant empirical approaches to public opinion, political behavior, and
contentious collective action may help to explain some aspects of systemic opposition,
the rapidity and geographical spread of the pacification dynamics observed since 1970
are anomalous to conventional empirical models. I argue that a certain lineage of Euro-
pean social theory provides a novel explanation for the pacification of the world in the
postwar period. Drawing on Weber, Heidegger, and Frankfurt School theorists, I argue
that the information revolution of the twentieth century caused an uneven but ultimately
global shift of ethical orientations. I argue that modern technology shifts individuals from
substantive rationality and correspondingly principled oppositional behavior (deeply held
worldviews in which attitudes and behaviors are driven by what are perceived to be objec-
tive truths), toward instrumental rationality and correspondingly negotiable oppositional
behavior (the flexible, pragmatically calculating worldview in which attitudes and be-
haviors are driven by adaptations to a contingent, institutional order). Operationalizing
modern technology using cross-national historical data on mass media technology, I find
that greater densities of mass media are associated with a shift in the composition of con-
tentious political activity. Consistent with the theory, the more media technology there
is in a country, the less common is militant, anti-systemic contentious activity relative to
within-system contentious activity.
25
Supplementary Information
Figure 9: Relative Systemic Contentiousness in OECD Countries
−1
0
1
2
1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
Year
Mean Number of Events in OECD Countries
Guerrilla warfare and Rioting
Demonstrations and Strikes
Relative Systemic Contentiousness
Figure 10: Relative Systemic Contentiousness in Non-OECD Countries
0.3
0.6
0.9
1920 1940 1960 1980 2000
Year
Mean Number of Events in Non−OECD Countries
Guerrilla warfare and Rioting
Demonstrations and Strikes
Relative Systemic Contentiousness
26
Afghanistan
Peru
Somalia
India
Sudan
Cambodia
Chad
El Salvador
Turkey
Nicaragua
Mexico
Liberia
United Kingdom
Lebanon
Philippines
Iraq
Chile
South Africa
Thailand
Israel
Honduras
Syria
Australia
Austria
Central African Republic
Cote d'Ivoire
Denmark
Ecuador
Finland
Gabon
Hungary
Japan
Korea, North
Luxembourg
Mali
Mauritania
Mongolia
Netherlands
New Zealand
Niger
Senegal
Sweden
Taiwan
Togo
Tunisia
Colombia
Albania
Belgium
Bulgaria
Costa Rica
Iran
Norway
Saudi Arabia
Switzerland
Uruguay
Libya
Pakistan
Morocco
Dominican Republic
Ireland
Paraguay
Poland
Romania
Spain
Nigeria
Portugal
Cameroon
Canada
Guatemala
Nepal
Korea, South
Jordan
Panama
Indonesia
Ghana
China PR
Haiti
Venezuela
Bolivia
United States
Greece
Italy
Cyprus
Laos
Brazil
France
Cuba
Argentina
−1.0 −0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5
Change in Average Guerrilla Wars Between Periods 1950−1970 and 1980−2000
Country
Decreased
Increased
Long−Term Changes in Guerrilla Wars
Figure 11: Change in the Mean Number of Guerrilla Wars Between the Periods 1950-1970
and 1980-2000
27
Israel
South Africa
United Kingdom
Korea, South
Indonesia
Albania
Haiti
Philippines
Romania
Somalia
Nigeria
Cote d'Ivoire
Sudan
Bulgaria
Nepal
Togo
Mali
Thailand
Tunisia
Mauritania
Cambodia
Gabon
Senegal
Chile
Costa Rica
Denmark
El Salvador
Netherlands
Niger
Cameroon
Afghanistan
Central African Republic
Korea, North
New Zealand
Saudi Arabia
Taiwan
India
Morocco
Luxembourg
Norway
Switzerland
Ghana
Canada
Finland
Liberia
Poland
Pakistan
Austria
Chad
Laos
Honduras
Ireland
Mongolia
Nicaragua
Paraguay
Libya
Australia
Hungary
Peru
Jordan
Dominican Republic
Bolivia
Iraq
Portugal
Sweden
Uruguay
Ecuador
Cyprus
Greece
Panama
Syria
Venezuela
Cuba
Colombia
Turkey
Guatemala
Belgium
Spain
Lebanon
Brazil
Argentina
China PR
Iran
Mexico
Japan
France
Italy
United States
048
Change in Average Between Periods 1950−1970 and 1980−2000
Country
Decreased
Increased
Long−Term Changes in Rioting
Figure 12: Change in the Mean Number of Riots Between the Periods 1950-1970 and
1980-2000.
28
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