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Politiek gedrag of politieke actie wordt doorgaans gedefinieerd als gedrag door burgers met als doel om de politieke besluitvorming te beïnvloeden. Denk aan demonstraties, blokkades, opstellen van petities. In westerse landen is evenwel slechts een kleine minderheid politiek actief. Maarten van Bezouw wil met zijn onderzoek weten waarom. ‘Politieke inactie is in zekere zin het tegenovergestelde van politiek gedrag: niet stemmen, niet demonstreren, geen petities tekenen.’

De protesten tegen president Aleksandr Loekasjenko in Belarus. De Black Lives Matter-demonstraties in de Verenigde Staten. Boeren op het Malieveld. Zelfs met de Covid-19-pandemie die de wereld vanaf 2020 beheerst, is er vrijwel dagelijks nieuws te vinden over demonstraties, protestmarsen, blokkades, of andere politieke acties van burgers.

Dergelijk politiek gedrag is echter zeldzamer dan het lijkt. In vrijwel alle westerse landen is het slechts een kleine minderheid van burgers die politiek actief is – met uitzondering van het stemmen in nationale verkiezingen. Waar bijna 79% van de kiesgerechtigden in Nederland heeft gestemd tijdens de laatste Tweede Kamerverkiezingen, geeft slechts 3,3% aan in het laatste jaar deelgenomen te hebben aan een legale demonstratie, en 27,3% tekende een petitie of zette politieke berichten online (15,6%; ESS Round 9, 2018). Sociaalwetenschappelijk onderzoek heeft op dit vlak overeenkomsten met media-aandacht: er is veel onderzoek naar wie meedoet aan, bijvoorbeeld, demonstraties en wat burgers beweegt om in

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