Why did people mobilize for the Arab Spring? While existing research has focused on the roles of authoritarian regimes, oppositional structures, and social grievances in the movement, these explanations fail to address differences in the behavior of individuals, overlooking the fact that even when millions mobilized for the Arab Spring, the majority of the population stayed at home. To investigate this puzzle, this book traces the reasoning processes by which individuals decided to join the uprisings, or to refrain from doing so. Drawing from original ethnographic interviews with protestors and non-protestors in Egypt and Morocco, Dornschneider utilizes qualitative methods and computational modeling to identify the main components of reasoning processes: beliefs, inferences (directed connections between beliefs), and decisions.
Bridging the psychology literature on reasoning and the political science literature on protest, this book systematically traces how decisions about participating in the Arab Spring were made. It shows that decisions to join the uprisings were "hot," meaning they were based on positive emotions, while decisions to stay at home were "cool," meaning they were based on safety considerations. Hot Contention, Cool Abstention adds to the extensive literature on political uprisings, offering insights on how and why movements start, stall, and evolve.