I study subnational conflict, with a focus on the dynamics of mass protest. My research takes advantage of social media data to understand individual-level behavior at a daily level; these data can illuminate dynamics of mobilization, elite behavior, and state repression, among others. I am currently a professor of public policy at the University of California – Los Angeles’ Luskin School of Public Affairs.
My earliest research focuses on the Arab Spring. In it, I develop a theory of protest tactics that explains how activists substitute between online media and offline activity; use millions of tweets to show that protest mobilization can occur spontaneously, without organized leadership; and show how to harness new data sources to understand emergent conflict narratives, changes in social network structure, and identify transnational social networks.
I also have written about Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests and subsequent civil conflict and am starting projects on protest in other countries. I am at various stages of completion on projects involving measuring the size of protests, predicting protest dynamics, and measuring protest dynamics using images shared at protests.
I am from Connecticut, with time spent in Texas, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and San Diego, where I spent more time living than anywhere else. Traveling, the scenery of Southern California, good coffee, good books with good coffee, and exercising provide me pleasure. I have no shame having been a fan of the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and, now, the Los Angeles Lakers solely because of LeBron James. (The future, though, is clearly with the Clippers.) On the court, I am closer to Alex Caruso.
– Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld
Professor Steinert-Threlkeld studies protest dynamics using computational techniques and network analysis. He has studied protests during the Arab Spring as well as in Ukraine, Venezuela, Hong Kong, and South Korea. He has shown that people are more motivated to protest when they learn about it from people near them in their social network and that support for Russian intervention was lower amongst Ukrainians than is commonly believed. Forthcoming work analyzes the effect of taxing social media and how protester and state violence affects subsequent protest trends.