Social movements, collective action, and social change

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The Psychology of Collective Action

Lauren E. Duncan

Smith College

(In press). Chapter Prepared for K. Deaux, & M. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.


In this chapter, research in personality and social psychology on motivation for collective action is reviewed and integrated into a model presented in Figure 1. In social psychology, van Zomeren, Postmes, and Spears (2008) identified three key variables predicting collective action: injustice, efficacy, and identity. Three additional theories are integrated into this model to elaborate the phenomenological experience of the development of group consciousness. Finally, the personality research on collective action is reviewed and integrated into the model. Research supporting these models is reviewed and suggested areas for future research are discussed.

Key words: activism, collective action, group consciousness, politicized collective identity, relative deprivation

The Psychology of Collective Action

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