University of Pennsylvania
3718 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Institutional Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|April 2018||Women, Rails and Telegraphs: An Empirical Study of Information Diffusion and Collective Action|
with , : w24495
How do social interactions shape collective action, and how are they mediated by the availability of networked information technologies? To answer these questions, we study the Temperance Crusade, one of the earliest instances of organized political mobilization by women in the U.S. This wave of protest activity against liquor dealers spread between the winter of 1873 and the summer of 1874, covering more than 800 towns in 29 states. We first provide causal evidence of social interactions driving the diffusion of the protest wave, and estimate the roles played by information traveling along railroad and telegraph networks. We do this by relying on exogenous variation in the rail network links generated by railroad worker strikes and railroad accidents. We also develop an event-study method...