Joerg Wischermann, GIGA/Institute of Asian Studies; Dang Thi Viet Phuong, Institute of Sociology/Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences; George Martin Sirait, Atma Jaya University, Jakarta. 

Project summary
           Do democratic and authoritarian political regimes (such as those we find in Indonesia and Vietnam) react differently to certain forms and contents of protest? Or do they react in similar ways and can this be explained by the fact that these are capitalist societies with a capitalist state?

The “protest and state reaction” project is kind of a pilot project. Its data will come from a sample of 4 daily newspapers (2 from Indonesia, 2 from Vietnam) whose reporting on protests and state reactions during a certain period of time (2015 and 2017) is systematically analysed. Thus, we apply the method of “Protest Event Analysis”.

The project pursues two empirical aims:

  • To identify any protest event where the protest targets the state/government, and where such a form of (conflicting) interest articulation and subsequent state reactions involves more than three people.
  • Covering all forms of state reactions. Whereas repression of protest has been widely researched, accommodation and ignorance, especially as regards reactions the state in authoritarian regimes shows vis-à-vis protest, do seem to be under-researched.

From a theoretical perspective the project wants to answer the question

  • Are there are similarities and/or differences as regards state reactions vis-à-vis (which?) forms and content of protest in polities with varying political regimes (an authoritarian one party regime, an electoral democracy)? How can such similarities and/or differences be explained in a theoretically substantial way?

We will use theoretical approaches which focus on the state-society nexus and in-built biases of the capitalist state. More specifically, we want to draw on Claus Offe’s idea of “structural selectivity”, typical for capitalist states, and Poulantzas’ and Jessop’s concept of “strategic selectivity”, characteristic of states in capitalist societies, in order to explain similarities and differences of state reactions in Indonesia and Vietnam.

The project is explorative in nature. It will lead to the development of hypotheses on the state reaction-protest nexus which should be tested in further projects.

Funding: The project is part of Work Package 3 “The State” of the EU-funded project on “Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia” (CRISEA), see:

For more information please contact Joerg Wischermann at joerg.