British Journal of Political Science

Research Article

Emancipative Values and Non-Violent Protest: The Importance of ‘Ecological’ Effects

Christian Welzel* and Franziska Deutsch


This article examines the impact of values on a key phenomenon of modern politics: non-violent protest. Previous studies have examined only the individual-level effects of values. Studying in addition the ‘ecological’ effects – how the social prevalence of values affects protest – generates new insights. Focusing on ‘emancipative values’, two ecological effects are shown: (1) the prevalence of emancipative values lifts people's protest above the level that their own emancipative values suggest (elevator effect); (2) the prevalence of these values enhances the impact of people's own emancipative values on protest (amplifier effect). We conclude that examining values in models of protest (and possibly of other activities), not only as individual attributes but also as ecological properties, gives ‘culture’ its full weight in explaining behaviour.

(Online publication December 13 2011)


* Center for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, and Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg (email:

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University, Bremen. Variables used in the re-examination of the DVW Model are described in detail in an appendix, to be found at