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Demonstration against the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during the Rio+20 conference in Brazil, June 2012
Demonstration in front of the MPR/DPR/DPD building in Jakarta during the 2019 Indonesian protests and riots

A protest (also called a demonstration, remonstration, or remonstrance) is a public expression of objection, disapproval, or dissent towards an idea or action, typically a political one.[1][2] Protests can be thought of as acts of cooperation in which numerous people cooperate by attending, and share the potential costs and risks of doing so.[3] Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass political demonstrations. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action in an attempt to enact desired changes themselves.[4] When protests are part of a systematic and peaceful nonviolent campaign to achieve a particular objective, and involve the use of pressure as well as persuasion, they go beyond mere protest and may be better described as civil resistance or nonviolent resistance.[5]

Various forms of self-expression and protest are sometimes restricted by governmental policy (such as the requirement of protest permits),[6] economic circumstances, religious orthodoxy, social structures, or media monopoly. One state reaction to protests is the use of riot police. Observers have noted an increased militarization of protest policing in many countries, with police deploying armored vehicles and snipers against protesters. When such restrictions occur, protests may assume the form of open civil disobedience, more subtle forms of resistance against the restrictions, or may spill over into other areas such as culture and emigration.

A protest itself may at times be the subject of a counter-protest. In such cases, counter-protesters demonstrate their support for the person, policy, action, etc. that is the subject of the original protest. Protesters and counter-protesters can sometimes violently clash. One study found that nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement in the United States tended to produce favorable media coverage and changes in public opinion focusing on the issues organizers were raising, but violent protests tended to generate unfavorable media coverage that generated public desire to restore law and order.[7]

Historical examples

Gandhi leading his followers on the famous Salt March to abolish the British Salt Laws
Protesters in the middle of the road in downtown Manama, Bahrain (2011)

Unaddressed protests may grow and widen into civil resistance, dissent, activism, riots, insurgency, revolts, and political or social revolution. Some examples of protests include:


See also: Repertoire of contention

Protester with a "Free The Bee" placard during the COVID-19 protests in Berlin on 29th of August 2020, near the Brandenburg Gate

A protest can take many forms.[9][10] Willingness to participate is influenced by individuals' ties within social networks. Social connections can affect both the spread of factual information about a protest and social pressures on participants.[3] Willing to participate will also vary depending on the type of protest. Likelihood that someone will respond to a protest is also affected by group identification, and by the types of tactics involved.[11]

The Dynamics of Collective Action project and the Global Nonviolent Action Database[12] are two of the leading data collection efforts attempting to capture information about protest events. The Dynamics of Collective Action project considers the repertoire of protest tactics (and their definitions) to include:[13]

UCL, anarchist protest in France, on October 16th during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Global Nonviolent Action Database uses Gene Sharp's classification of 198 methods of nonviolent action. There is considerable overlap with the Dynamics of Collective Action repertoire, although the GNA repertoire includes more specific tactics. Together, the two projects help define tactics available to protesters and document instances of their use.


March next to the Benito Juárez Hemicycle, 27 August 1968, Mexico City
Street protesters with signs are demonstrating in Helsinki, Finland after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022

Thomas Ratliff and Lori Hall[14] have devised a typology of six broad activity categories of the protest activities described in the Dynamics of Collective Action project.

Some forms of direct action listed in this article are also public demonstrations or rallies.

Written demonstration

Written evidence of political or economic power, or democratic justification may also be a way of protesting.

Civil disobedience demonstrations

A protester photobombing a news reporter during a protest in New York City
TET passed candidates who are protesting over SSC scam in West Bengal, beneath the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Kolkata Maidan.

Any protest could be civil disobedience if a "ruling authority" says so, but the following are usually civil disobedience demonstrations:

As a residence


Black bloc members spray graffiti during an Iraq War Protest in Washington, D.C.[22]


Direct action

Against a government

The District of Columbia issues license plates protesting the "taxation without representation" that occurs due to its special status.

Against a military shipment

Against a planning application or development

By government employees

Protest inside the Wisconsin State Capitol

Job action

Main article: Industrial action

In sports

In modern times sports protests have become increasingly significant, causing more people to take notice. Sporting protests can be about any number of things ranging from racial justice to political wrongdoings.[24] Some of the most prominent sports figures being Tommie Smith, Jhon Carlos, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robison, Colin Kaepernick and Billie Jean King have all pushed forward change by this method of protest. However, the majority of people don't believe sports and politics belong together, saying,“ Most of us who love sports want to forget about politics when we watch games.[25]” Nevertheless, this statement can still be controversial since others believe that sports athletes should use their platform and wealth to encourage change. Either way protesting in sports is an important form of protest that has gotten significant media attention and has caused significant change throughout modern times. During a sporting event, under certain circumstances, one side may choose to play a game "under protest", usually when they feel the rules are not being correctly applied. The event continues as normal, and the events causing the protest are reviewed after the fact. If the protest is held to be valid, then the results of the event are changed. Each sport has different rules for protests.

By management

By tenants

By consumers


Civil disobedience to censorship

By Internet and social networking

Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park using the Internet to get their message out over social networking as events happen, September 2011

Blogging and social networking have become effective tools to register protest and grievances. Protests can express views or news, and use viral networking to reach out to thousands of people. With protests on the rise from the U.S. election season of 2016 going into 2017, protesters became aware that using their social media during a protest could make them an easier target for government surveillance.[26]

Literature, art and culture

Against religious or ideological institutions

Economic effects against companies

Protest march in Palmerston North, New Zealand
Protesters outside the Oireachtas in Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A study of 342 US protests covered by The New York Times newspaper from 1962 to 1990 showed that such public activities usually affected the company's publicly traded stock price. The most intriguing aspect of the study's findings revealed that the amount of media coverage the event received was of the most importance to this study. Stock prices fell an average of one-tenth of a percent for every paragraph printed about the event.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of PROTEST". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  2. ^ "PROTEST (noun) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary". Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b Larson, Jennifer M. (11 May 2021). "Networks of Conflict and Cooperation". Annual Review of Political Science. 24 (1): 89–107. doi:10.1146/annurev-polisci-041719-102523.
  4. ^ St. John Barned-Smith, "How We Rage: This Is Not Your Parents' Protest," Current (Winter 2007): 17–25.
  5. ^ a b Roberts, Adam (2009). Ash, Timothy Garton (ed.). Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-19-955201-6.
  6. ^ Daniel L. Schofield, S.J.D. (November 1994). "Controlling Public Protest: First Amendment Implications". in the FBI's Law Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  7. ^ Omar Wasow. "Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting" (PDF). Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  8. ^ "6ตุลา".
  9. ^ Baldwin, Brent; Kruszewski, Jackie. "Why They Keep Fighting: Richmond Protesters Explain Their Resistance to Trump's America". Style Weekly. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  10. ^ Pinckney, Jonathan; Rivers, Miranda (25 March 2020). "Nonviolent Action in the Time of Coronavirus". U.S. Institute of Peace. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  11. ^ Bugden, Dylan (January 2020). "Does Climate Protest Work? Partisanship, Protest, and Sentiment Pools". Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. 6: 237802312092594. doi:10.1177/2378023120925949.
  12. ^ Global Nonviolent Action Database
  13. ^ "Dynamics of Collective Action Project". Stanford University.
  14. ^ Ratliff, Thomas (2014). "Practicing the Art of Dissent: Toward a Typology of Protest Activity in the United States". Humanity & Science. 38 (3): 268–294. doi:10.1177/0160597614537796. S2CID 147285566.
  15. ^ Tom Bieling (Ed.): Design (&) Activism – Perspectives on Design as Activism and Activism as Design. Mimesis, Milano, 2019, ISBN 978-88-6977-241-2.
  16. ^ Mcgrath, Ben (13 November 2006). "Holy Rollers".
  17. ^ "Critical Mass London". Urban75. 2006.
  18. ^ "Pittsburgh Critical Mass". Archived from the original on 28 September 2009.
  19. ^ "Critical Mass: Over 260 Arrested in First Major Protest of RNC". Democracy Now!. 30 August 2004. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007.
  20. ^ Seaton, Matt (26 October 2005). "Critical crackdown". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  21. ^ Rosi-Kessel, Adam (24 August 2004). "[*BCM*] Hong Kong Critical Mass News".
  22. ^ Image of black bloc members during an Iraq War protest in Washington, D.C., 21 March 2009
  23. ^ Parvaz, D. "Iran's Silent Protests". Al Jazeera.
  24. ^ Kaufman, Peter; Wolf, Eli (16 February 2010). "Playing and Protesting: Sport as a Vehicle for Social Change". Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 34 (2): 154–175. doi:10.1177/0193723509360218. S2CID 144155586. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  25. ^ Zirin, Dave (9 September 2008). A People's History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play. The New Press.
  26. ^ Newman, Lily Hay. "How to Use Social Media at a Protest Without Big Brother Snooping". WIRED. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  27. ^ Welling, Angie (13 November 2007). "Coverage of protests hurts firms, Cornell-Y. study says". Deseret Morning News. p. E3.