Lifetime Activism, Marginality, and Psychology: Narratives of Lifelong Feminist Activists Committed to Social Change


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Abstract

In the present study we seek to examine how and why some individuals commit their lives to creating social change in their communities. We specifically explore the lives and experiences of lifetime feminist activists by assessing the role of various social psychological mechanisms in growing and sustaining commitment to social change in diverse social contexts. We utilize 3 social-psychological concepts: positive marginality, conscientización, and social identity theory in order to focus on the inherent intersecting mechanisms and influences that contribute to a lifetime of social activism. Using idiographic narrative analysis we employ an interpretive methodology to analyze the oral histories of 3 women: Grace Lee Boggs of the United States, Matidle Lindo of Nicaragua, and D. Sharifa of India. Our findings suggest that although the women’s lives and experiences vary considerably, concepts from within social psychology can aid in our understanding of how and why individuals become increasingly committed to creating change. We discuss how these findings may contribute to theory development on understanding the experiences and efforts of individuals who contribute to social change.

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