Event Date: Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

Presenter: Dr. Susan Stokes

Photography ©Mara Lavitt
June 6, 2018
Susan Stokes.

Dr. Susan Stokes teaches courses that reflect her research interests in political development, political parties and democracy, comparative political behavior, and distributive politics at the University of Chicago.

People face many inconveniences and obstacles when they think about joining protests. Social scientists focus on these “costs of participation”—the time and expense needed to travel to demonstrations, fear of violence and police reprisals, the opportunity costs of time spent—to explain why relatively few people join street protests. But it’s also important to understand that there are “costs of abstention”—emotional and social downsides to staying home when people around you are going out to the streets to protest about issues that you care about.

When people decide whether to join demonstrations, they implicitly weigh these costs of abstention against the costs of participation. This balancing helps explain some puzzles, such as why people sometimes participate more after they observe demonstrators being treated harshly by the police. It also helps explain the dynamics of last summer’s racial justice protests, which were massive, despite fears about the pandemic.

Dr. Stokes tells us this about herself:  “I received my undergraduate degree at Harvard, in anthropology, and my PhD from Stanford, in political science. I taught at the University of Chicago in the 1990s and early 2000s, before moving to Yale University. I spent 13 years at Yale, including stints as Chair of the Department of Political Science and of the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies. I returned to the University of Chicago in 2018. I am the Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and Faculty Chair of the Chicago Center on Democracy.”

Dr. Stokes has written and co-authored prize-winning books and published articles in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, and other journals.