Synopsis and General Conclusions
This chapter addresses the question why citizens decide to engage in non-institutionalized forms of political participation in political protest. The procedure of confronting rational choice propositions with competing hypotheses is rather simple. A competing theory asserts a relationship between some independent variables and a dependent variable. Rational choice theory is often regarded as unsatisfactory because it proceeds from given preferences and subjective probabilities or constraints. Rational choice theory predicts that the independent variables of the competing theory are related to the dependent variable because these independent variables are related to those of rational choice theory and because rational choice variables have a direct causal effect on the respective dependent variable. Rational choice theory of protest would predict that younger people are exposed to the incentives to protest to a larger extent than older people and that these incentives are the “real” causes of protest.