PhD Candidate Tony Zhang on the power of weather

May 18, 2017 by Sherri Klassen

Doctoral Candidate Tony Zhang recently published an article looking at the effects of weather on the likelihood of social movements and how people's sensitivity to weather conditions reflects the macro political opportunity context. Tony is currently completing his dissertation entitled Contextual Effects and Support for Liberalism: A Comparative Analysis. The article came out in 2016 in the Weather, Climate and Society, a journal of the American Meteorological Society. Below is the citation and abstract.

Tony Huiquan Zhang (2016) “Weather and Social Movement: Evidence from New York City and Washington D.C., 1960-1995”, Weather, Climate and Society., 8(3), 299-311. DOI:10.1175/WCAS-D-15-0072.1.

Abstract: Scholars have been taking the impact of weather on social movements for granted for some time, despite a lack of supporting empirical evidence. This paper takes the topic more seriously, analyzing more than 7000 social movement events and 36 years of weather records in Washington, D.C., and New York City (1960–95). Here, “good weather” is defined as midrange temperature and little to no precipitation. This paper uses negative binomial regression models to predict the number of social movements per day and finds social movements are more likely to happen on good days than bad, with seasonal patterns controlled for. Results from logistic regression models indicate violence occurs more frequently at social movement events when it is warmer. Most interestingly, the effect of weather is more salient when there are more political opportunities and resources available. This paper discusses the implications and suggests future research on weather and social movement studies.

The full article is available here.