Scholars have argued the importance of understanding repertoires of contention, but there is little research on the quality of these repertoires across countries and over time. In this article, I seek to fill this gap and address the following questions: How flexible or rigid are repertoires of contention across countries and over time? Do they converge on a type that Tilly called “strong,” which is closer to the rigid end of the spectrum, as Tilly expected? What accounts for the differences across countries and over time in the flexibility of repertoires? Do political opportunity or resource mobilization theories explain the variation? To address these questions, I create measures from data on contentious events worldwide between 1990 and 2004 provided by the World Handbook of Political Indicators IV. I find that the flexibility of repertoires does indeed cluster around Tilly's strong model. Employing an innovative “random effect within-between model” to separate out two types of effects of explanatory factors, I find some support for each theory. State strength at the crossnational level increases the rigidity of repertoires, whereas increases in income over time increase the flexibility of repertoires.

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