Determinants of Mobilisation at Home and Abroad: Analysing the Micro-Foundations of Out-Migration & Mass Protest (MOBILISE)

Determinants of Mobilisation at Home and Abroad: Analysing the Micro-Foundations of Out-Migration & Mass Protest (MOBILISE)

Demonstration in the Polish city of Łódź: MOBILISE looks at why, in times of crisis, some people migrate and others protest. Piotr Goldstein

MOBILISE is an international joint project funded by Open Research Area (ORA) in which ZOiS is participating with its Director Prof. Gwendolyn Sasse as a Principal Investigator. The other Principal and Co-Investigators are Dr Olga Onuch (University of Manchester), Prof. Jacquelien van Stekelenburg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Dr Sorana Toma (ENSAE Paris), Dr David Doyle (University of Oxford) and Dr Evelyn Ersanilli (University of Amsterdam). On the German side, the project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). At ZOiS, Dr Piotr Goldstein (postdoctoral researcher) and Kostiantyn Fedorenko (doctoral student) are both working on this project.

Project description

While the relationship between protest and migration has been theorised at the macro-level it is rarely studied at the individual level. This is remarkable given that the theoretical and empirical expectations as to what drives both migration and protest overlap significantly. This project studies protest and migration concurrently and comparatively across space and time, in origin as well as destination countries. The main question is: When there is discontent, why do some people protest while others cross borders?

The project offers four key innovations:

  • it combines protest and migration;
  • it captures all the relevant groups for a comparative study (protesters, migrants, migrant protesters and people who have not engaged in migration or protest);
  • it tracks individuals over time by employing a panel survey;
  • it provides in-depth qualitative data from origin and host countries

These features allow the project to generate an unprecedented amount of empirical data on the issues at stake, to make a major contribution to theory development in both migration and protest studies, and to offer key insights to policy makers that are of central importance for political and economic stability.

The project covers Ukraine, Poland, Morocco and Argentina – four countries which have recently witnessed both large-scale emigration and mass protests, and follows migrants from these countries to Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.

The team at ZOiS headed by Prof. Gwendolyn Sasse is principally engaged in the collection of qualitative and quantitative data in Poland and Ukraine as well as data collections on Polish and Ukrainian migrants in Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. Together with international partners this data will be compared with data relating to Latin America and North Africa collected by the partner institutions. Postdoc Piotr Goldstein coordinates the qualitative data collection in the four countries of origin, Ukraine, Poland, Morocco and Argentina, as well as the qualitative data collection among Polish, Ukrainian, Argentinian and Moroccan migrants in Germany, Britain and Spain. ZOiS and the UK partner conducted an additional online protest survey in Belarus (August 2020-January 2021).


  • nationally representative face-to-face and online panel surveys
  • online migrant surveys
  • protest participant surveys
  • focus groups
  • in-depth interviews
  • social media analysis

Key questions

  • Are there similar factors that drive the choice to migrate and/or protest at the individual level?
  • How does the political, social and economic context affect this mobilisation?
  • Are these choices independent of each other or mutually reinforcing/undermining?


Head of project

[Translate to Englisch:]
Einstein Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Project researchers