Protest expresses relatively overt reaction to events or situations: sometimes in favor, though more often opposed. Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly and forcefully making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or may undertake direct action to attempt to directly enact desired changes themselves.
Self-expression can, in theory, in practice or in appearance, be restricted by governmental policy, economic circumstances, religious orthodoxy, social structures, or media monopoly. When such restrictions occur, opposition may spill over into other areas such as culture, the streets or emigration.
A protest can itself sometimes be the subject of a counter-protest. In such a case, counter-protesters demonstrate their support for the person, policy, action, etc. that is the subject of the original protest.
Unaddressed protest may grow and widen into dissent, activism, riots, insurgency, revolts, and political and/or social revolution, as in:
Forms of protest
Commonly recognized forms of protest include:
Public demonstration or political rally
Some forms of direct action
listed in this article are also public demonstrations
- Protest march, a historically and geographically common form of nonviolent action by groups of people.
- Picketing, a form of protest in which people congregate outside a place of work or location where an event is taking place. Often, this is done in an attempt to dissuade others from going in ("crossing the picket line"), but it can also be done to draw public attention to a cause.
- Street protesters, characteristically, work alone, gravitating towards areas of high foot traffic, and employing handmade placard such as sandwich boards or picket sign's in order to maximize exposure and interaction with the public.
- Lock-downs are a way to stop movement of an object, like a structure or tree and to thwart movement of actual protestors from the location. Users employ various chains, locks and even the sleeping dragon for impairment of those trying to remove them with a matrix of composited materials.
- Die-ins are a form of protest where participants simulate being dead (with varying degrees of realism). In the simplest form of a die-in, protesters simply lie down on the ground and pretend to be dead, sometimes covering themselves with signs or banners. Much of the effectiveness depends on the posture of the protesters, for when not properly executed, the protest might look more like a "sleep-in". For added realism, simulated wounds are sometimes painted on the bodies, or (usually "bloody") bandages are used.
- Protest song is a song which protests perceived problems in society. Every major movement in Western history has been accompanied by its own collection of protest songs, from slave emancipation to women's suffrage, the labor movement, civil rights, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movement. Over time, the songs have come to protest more abstract, moral issues, such as injustice, racial discrimination, the morality of war in general (as opposed to purely protesting individual wars), globalization, inflation, social inequalities, and incarceration.
- Radical cheerleading The idea is to ironically reappropriate the aesthetics of cheerleading, for example by changing the chants to promote feminism and left-wing causes. Many radical cheerleaders (some of whom are male, transgender or non-gender identified) are in appearance far from the stereotypical image of a cheerleader.
Written evidence of political or economic power, or democratic justification may also be a way of protesting.
- Letters (to show political power by the volume of letters): For example, some letter writing campaigns especially with signed form letter
Civil disobedience demonstrations
Any protest could be civil disobedience if a “ruling authority” says so, but the following are usually civil disobedience demonstrations:
As a residence
Protesting a government
Protesting a military shipment
By government employees
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.
Civil disobedience to censorship
Literature, art, culture
Usage in American English
In American English
, the verb protest
often acts transitively
: The students protested the policy
. Elsewhere one can still find intransitive
usage: The students protested against the policy
: The students protested in favor of the policy.
A teach-in is a method of non-violent protest, first employed against the U.S. government's involvement in Vietnam
. The idea was inspired by Marshall Sahlins
who taught anthropology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
. The idea was to allow a forum for opposition towards the war. Students and faculty would meet at night in university facilities to argue, ask questions, challenge assumptions and learn about the Vietnam war.
Economic effects of protests against companies
A study of 342 US protests covered by the New York Times
newspaper in the period 1962
showed that such public activities usually had an impact on the company's publicly-traded stock
price. The most intriguing aspect of the study's findings is that what mattered most was not the number of protest participants, but the amount of media coverage the event received. Stock prices fell an average of one-tenth of a percent for every paragraph printed about the event.