Political participation is crucial for the functioning and development of the concept of democracy, as it represents a communication tool through which citizens can exert pressure on the political elite. Besides the conventional form, unconventional political participation has this role, too. The main focus will be on protest participation, which is most often identified as one of the more complex forms of collective action, through which citizens most visibly express their beliefs; at the same time it reflects dissatisfaction of citizens most transparently. The highlight will therefore be on protest participation in the period of economic crisis affecting the countries of the European Union since 2008. In the context of the empirical analysis we focus on factors that led to an outbreak of protest participation within the set period. We are particularly interested in the various combinations of causal paths formed by these factors. The key research question therefore refers to the possible combinations of conditions, resulting in the presence or in the absence of protests in EU countries in times of economic crisis. These combinations are formed by the following factors: material deprivation, unemployment, development of civil society and development of democracy. Empirical analysis is based on qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) or more specifically on the crisp-set QCA. The latter is used to process more complex binary data, the aim being to simplify these data structures into a simple and logical notation. By using the selected method of analysis, we came to the conclusion that not only one condition or a single combination of conditions leads to the set outcome. Rather there emerges a variety of causal paths, which can result in both the absence and in the presence of the outcome (protest actions).