Kateřina Vráblíková


I conduct research on social movements, political behavior, democracy, and comparative politics. I am a member of Steering Commitee of the ECPR Standing Group on Participation and Mobilization.

Economic Grievances and Protest

I am currently working on a project Protest, Hardship and Democracy (PHD) funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and The Ohio State University. This project focuses on the interaction among individual-level deprivation, macro-structural socio-economic scarcity and politicization of the economic crisis that opens space for mobilization of collective grievances.


The main argument: Political activism and protest have usually been a matter of affluent socioeconomic resources with people of higher socio-economic status residing in wealthier countries protesting substantially more. However, the recent mobilization related to the economic crisis and to the growing economic inequality (such as anti-austerity protests and Occupy movements) and classical grievance theory suggest that some type of protest (so call protest of hardship) might be triggered by socio-economic deterioration. Under what conditions do poor and deprived people get mobilized? The project theorizes that protest under hardship is activated by the combination of individual and macro-structural socio-economic scarcity under a condition that the hardship is also politicized.

Methods: The project relies on over-time multi-level modeling of repeated comparative surveys in advanced industrialized democracies before and after economic crisis that are combined with various macro-level indicators. It also uses case-control design of protest-population surveys to capture the rare type of deprived protestors.

Economic Crisis Conditioned: Individual Protest and Socio-economic Hardship. Article manuscript.
Privileged Post-Materialists or Excluded Radicals? Different Pathways of Protest Participation in a Case-Control Study. Article manuscript.

Protest Surveys

Surveying of participants at demonstrations and marches has been developed within an international collaborative research project “Caught in the Act of Protest: Contextualizing Contestation” (CCC). The CCC project is an international network of eleven research teams studying collective action in Europe and Latin America. I was responsible for the CCC project in the Czech Republic. Together with Ondřej Císař and Kateřina Kňapová, I have collected data at 12 demonstrations. I use and further develop protest surveying in my current project Protest, Hardship and Democracy (PHD).


The main argument: Protestors are not a homogenous group. Participants of a march organized by trade unions, extreme right-wing protestors or participants of an LGBT Pride show probably different characteristics and factors determining people’s involvement in those protests also differ. How do protestors of various collective events differ and what characteristics of the collective events are responsible for those differences? What factors lead people to get involved in one type of protest and what determinants trigger participation in other collective actions?

Methods: The CCC project captures the diversity of protestors by targeted surveys of participants at different demonstrations and creates a multilevel structure of protestors embedded in demonstrations and demonstrations embedded in different countries. The protest survey thus addresses the problem that protestors are rare and heterogenous group and because of that they are hard to reach with nationally representative surveys that are standardly used in participation research. I am focusing (together with Richard Traunmüller, Goethe University Frankfurt) on the integration of the protest surveys into a design of a case-control study that supplements the surveyed protestors with negative cases of non-protestors and enables testing causal effects.

Privileged Post-Materialists or Excluded Radicals? Different Pathways of Protest Participation in a Case-Control Study. Article manuscript.
Zero the Hero: Upgrading Targeted Surveys to Case-Control Designs (with Richard Traunmüller). Article manuscript.

Macro-level Context of Political Activism

I’m generally interested in the effect of societal and state structures on activism and preferences of individual citizens. I started to deal with the role of formal political institutions, political culture and mobilization for people’s involvement in non-electoral politics in my dissertation research project. My recent book What Kind of Democracy? further develops the theoretical understanding of contextual democratic arrangements that support non-electoral activism. Together with Jan W. van Deth (University of Mannheim) I have analyzed the role of contextual social capital also for other aspects of democratic citizenship.


The main argument: There are large differences across contemporary democracies in the extent to which their citizens are involved in politics beyond voting. Those differences can be attributed to the character of the national context that citizens live in. The reason is that the decision to take part in politics is determined not only by people’s predispositions, attitudes or proximate social environment but is also shaped by a country context in which they live. Democratic structures that are based on inclusive contestation conception of democracy and include arrangements like divided political institutions or self-expressive culture support people’s involvement in non-electoral activism because they provide access and chances for success. National social capital facilitates other aspects of democratic citizen politics like interest in politics or voting.

Methods: Multilevel modeling of comparative survey data that allows separation of individual- and contextual-level influences.

What Kind of Democracy? Participation, Inclusiveness and Contestation. New York: Routledge. (2017)
Conducive Contexts: The Impact of Collective and Individual Social Capital on Democratic Citizenship, Acta Politica, 52(1): 23–42 (with Jan W. van Deth, 2017)
How Context Matters? Mobilization, Political Opportunity Structures and Non-Electoral Political Participation in Old and New Democracies, Comparative Political Studies, 47(2): 203–229 (2014)
Individual Political Participation and Macro Contextual Determinants, in M. Barrett and B. Zani (eds.), Political and Civic Engagement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 33–53 (with Ondřej Císař, 2015)

East Central Europe

I am doing research on protest, civil society and social movements, and public opinion in East Central Europe in the perspective of democratization and political developments in new democracies. I collaborate on this research mainly with my former colleagues Ondrej Císař (Charles University) and Lukáš Linek (Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences).


The main argument: Post-communist countries still show considerable differences compared to “old” Western democracies, such as much lower civic and political engagement of ordinary citizens and a more profound “transactional” character of social movements and civil society. The countries also went through several interesting processes, such as democratic transformation and consolidation or Europeanization, and show specific characteristics that are not common in “old” Western democracies, such as different structuring of socio-economic and cultural political dimensions.

Methods: As a researcher in a team led by Ondrej Císař, I participated on a Survey of Czech Social Movements Organizations (Czech SMO Survey, 2008–2009) and took part in a project focused on collection of Protest Event Data in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia (2011–2013). My work on politics in East Central Europe also uses nationally representative surveys and protest surveys that were collected within the CCC project.

Reinterpreting the Democracy Disillusionment in the CEE Democracies: Evidence from protest event analysis in 1989-2010 (with Ondřej Císař). Article manuscript.
At the Parliament or in the Streets? Issue Composition of Contentious Politics in the Visegrad Countries (with Ondřej Císař). Article manuscript.
How Did Communist Legacy Matter and Why?. Article manuscript.
Transnational Activism of Social Movement Organizations: The Effect of European Union Funding on Local Groups in the Czech Republic, European Union Politics, 14(1): 140–160 (with Ondřej Císař, 2013)
The Europeanization of Social Movements in the Czech Republic: The EU and Local Women’s Groups, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 43(2): 209–219 (with Ondřej Císař, 2010)