Between Mob and Multitude: Youth Ambivalence Toward Mass Mobilization in a Ukrainian Protest Movement
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 26, Number 1, Winter 2018
- pp. 55-82
- Additional Information
Threatened ruling elites in post-Soviet states often describe anti-government protesters using the terms “mobs” or “pawns.” This article highlights ambivalence toward the crowd form that existed for a minority of young protesters in post-Soviet Ukraine during the 2004 Orange Revolution. I draw on qualitative data collected during fieldwork with high school student protesters in Kyiv at the time of the Orange Revolution to illustrate the constant tension between some young people’s wish to celebrate the crowd as the site of emergent democracy and their common perception that the crowd may easily transform into a “mindless mass” or “mob.” For some Ukrainian students, the “crowd” represents a Janus-faced concept as well as a source of tension: it may be an effective agent of political change, but it may equally constitute a threat to democracy. The article examines the effects of civic education on youth political engagement by connecting students’ ambivalence toward protest to the conflicting pedagogies of the post-Soviet school context. I ask to what extent this link can be useful in furthering analysis of pro-democracy protests such as the recent Euromaidan.