How Political Conflict and Participation Address Issues of Inequality

June 16, 2020

ANN ARBOR – In this episode of Michigan Minds, Christian Davenport, PhD, professor of political science and faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies, shares his insights on the current protests and political participation for social movements, and discusses his research on how police respond to protests.

Davenport explains that the current protests across the nation are some of the largest protests the country has ever seen, and some of this can be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is a phrase in sociology we refer to as biographical availability,” he says, explaining that it means people are available to be involved, and adding that the pandemic and the countermeasures implemented to slow the spread of the virus allowed more people to participate.

He also discusses his research on protest policing and what reforms could potentially work, adding that civilian oversight is a necessary component of the conversation. Davenport says that uprisings remind us that something is missing from the political conversation.

“Uprisings, in many respects, are a call to the rest of the political system to function. But rather than view it as outside of the conventional repertoire of political activities, we need to see democratic participation for what it is—this is another form of democratic participation,” he says.

He adds that social movements play an important role for raising awareness, but everyone needs to join in the conversation to bring about change and address the fundamental problems.

Learn more in this episode of Michigan Minds.