Katrin Paula successfully defended her doctoral dissertation "Micro-Dynamics of Mobilization: Evidence from the German Democratic Republic" on 29 April 20179. She passed her written dissertation and oral defense with the highest possible marks. The examination committee consisted of Sabine Carey, Thomas Gautschi and Tobias Wolbring.
In her dissertation, she tackles the question of how mass movements develop in authoritarian settings, where spaces for civil society are constrained and participating in acts of dissent are associated with high personal risks. She develops novel arguments on how citizens access information about the occurrence of protests and of repression and how this shapes their calculations on whether, and where, to join a protest movement. Generating new data on protests on the municipality-day level, on the impact of focal points and the contents of foreign media reports, her results show that protests in the GDR spread predominantly non-spatially, that protests in larger cities attracted people from smaller nearby communities and that foreign media reports about repression lead to an overall backlash, but deterred protests in the communities in which state repression of protesters was reported in West German TV news. Overall her research provides new insights on the dynamics of protest movements in authoritarian regimes on a highly disaggregated level.