The Global Resonance of Human Rights: What Google Trends Can Tell Us
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Description: Critics of the human rights discourse claim that it is losing global resonance, while supporters counter that the language of human rights remains politically relevant. In this article, we address this question using aggregated data from Google search trends. Specifically, we test two divergent accounts of why human rights might appeal in a population. The top-down model predicts that level of nationwide interest in human rights is attributable mainly to external factors like NGO campaigns, where the bottom-up model highlights the importance of internal factors like economic growth and repressive violence. In testing these models, this article confronts high-level debates over whether the human rights discourse is best conceived as a tool of outside imposition or of local resistance. We find more evidence for the latter: not only is interest in human rights more concentrated in the Global South, the discourse is most resonant where people face government violence.