The Consequences of Soft Repression

By Jan Jämte and Rune Ellefsen 

This article examines the consequences of soft repression on social movement activists. By drawing on activists’ perceptions, we develop a multilayered analytical framework that captures the experienced effects of soft repression at the individual, organizational, and movement levels. Our results show that soft repression—in particular, labeling, and stigmatization—primarily affect the individual level by triggering self-policing and self-control. By introducing a model that incorporates several radical social movement organizations, we also show how labeling and stigmatization affect different radical groups in different ways. These measures sometimes fail to demobilize the primary targets of the repressive actions, the most militant and clandestine groups. Instead, the demobilizing effects seem most evident in organizations that mobilize openly and inclusively. Our analysis is based on in-depth interviews with activists from the radical left-libertarian movement (RLLM) in Sweden, most of which have been active in organizations labeled as “violence-affirming extremists” by the Swedish government.

Jämte, J. & Ellefsen, R. (2020). The Consequences of Soft Repression. Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 25(3), 383–404.


Published Sep. 24, 2020 1:09 PM - Last modified Sep. 14, 2021 2:39 PM