Tolerant Solidarity With Violent Protesters: Evidence From a Survey Experiment

Samson Yuen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Conventional wisdom holds that violent protests alienate the public. But violence could also create tactical disagreement among protesters and weaken their unity. So, to what extent does protesters’ use of violence erode intra-movement cohesion? This article argues that protesters can preserve cohesion by falsifying their private moral preferences and restraining themselves from public denunciation, an act which I characterize as ‘tolerant solidarity’. Based on a survey experiment on participants of Hong Kong’s 2019 protests, I examine how their private and public preferences toward violence change in response to three divisive conditions: protesters taking the initiative, violence causing physical harm, and violence targeting counter-protesters. Results show while these divisive conditions make respondents more likely to morally disapprove violence, the effects are weaker in their support for public denunciation, an indication that their private preferences are partially concealed. Findings contribute to the study of contentious politics by advancing a more complex understanding of movement cohesion when protester violence is involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1731-1756
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number9
Early online date31 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • preference falsification
  • protester violence
  • solidarity
  • survey experiment


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