New research on the Fridays for Future “Global Climate Strikes” suggests an older protestor
In a recent study, researchers from Humboldt-Universität and the Technische Universität Berlin have investigated the mobilisation pattern of the Fridays for Future movement
The typical profile of a Fridays for Future (FFF) demonstrator is that of a rather young, school-going female – a profile largely and unremarkably associated with climate activist Greta Thunberg. The accuracy of this profile was illustrated in a previous multi-national report on the March 2019 Global Climate Strikes. However, a just-released research report by Berlin-based sociologists Dr. Beth Gharrity Gardner (Humboldt-Universität) and Dr. Michael Neuber (Technische Universität Berlin) shows the movement in Germany managed to mobilize older, less politically active adult participants on the 20th of September 2019 (Neuber and Gardner 2020).
Using surveys of September climate strikers in Berlin and Chemnitz, the report on Germany highlights changes in mobilization patterns from March events in Berlin and Bremen. For example, the median age increased by 12 years between the two events (19 in March and 31 in September). In their examination of what is sometimes called the “Greta effect” on FFF protestors, the authors find mixed results. While participants – especially younger ones – continue to report that Greta Thurnberg made them more interested in climate change, her influence on their decision to join the strike was more limited.
This research is part of a larger multi-national initiative surveying Climate Strikes (Walström et al. 2020). The newest report on the September 20-27, 2019 international week of actions in 15 countries (19 cities), also reflects an older protestor base and offers an updated picture of FFF’s evolving protest dynamics. According to estimates from organizers and others, the demonstrations in Germany mobilized over a million protestors (270,000 in Berlin alone) and over 7 million internationally.
Dr. Beth Gharrity Gardner, DPhil Research Associate, Institut für Sozialwissenschaften, Political Sociology and Social Policy, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, email@example.com
Michael Neuber and Beth Gharrity Gardner (2020). Germany. In: Joost de Moor, Katrin Uba, Mattias Wahlström, Magnus Wennerhag and Michiel De Vydt (Eds.). Protest for a future II: Composition, mobilization and motives of the participants in Fridays For Future climate protests on 20-27 September, 2019, in 19 cities around the world. Retrieved from: https://osf.io/asruw/