University of Queensland publishes research on legitimacy of protest
19 July 2023
The University of Queensland has published a research paper on Violent and Disruptive Protests.
‘Is the Social Legitimacy of Protest in Australia in Flux?’ is the latest paper in a series of ARPC co-funded thought leadership papers by the University of Queensland.
This paper explores the question ‘How do different stakeholders perceive the social legitimacy of disruptive protests in Australia?’
The right to protest peacefully is one of the defining features of a liberal democracy. Protest allows civil society to come together and broaden political impact, particularly to voice the concerns of minority or less powerful individuals and groups.
How protest or disruptive protests are perceived by the majority has crucial implications for law making, businesses, insurance and civil society and its ability to voice dissent.
The research findings draw on interviews with stakeholders from law enforcement, government, activists, civil society groups, academics and businesses.
Based on the research findings, the paper puts forward five recommendations for society, policymakers, businesses and insurers:
- Disruptive protests that gain traction in moderate counter-narrative need to be heeded as an indicator of social change.
- Engage with the affected stakeholders in making laws around protest activities to avoid rapid legislation that appears heavy-handed and invites pushback.
- Reserve legislation that criminalises protest causes and activities for containing the most extreme ideologies, such as those that incite hate and violence.
- Business and industry are part of social movements, such as climate action, and need to be aware that, even where protests may disrupt the economy, their employees and customers may endorse those causes and expect businesses to be in tune with changing sentiments.
- Disruptive protests have insurance implications. Insurers should be clear on whether they offer (and price) or exclude potentially costly business interruption and civil unrest in their policies, as well as whether they anticipate potential growth in demand for products to cover the costs of such disruption. Businesses should also consider their potential losses and liabilities from disruptive protest and whether insurance is a viable means of protection from those losses.
You can view the first paper in this series, which won The Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO) 2022 Publication Award ‘Terrorism and Violent Protests – where do these disruptive events meet?’ here.