Protest Participation and Identity-Related Dilemmas: A Qualitative Inquiry Into the 2013 Gezi Park Protests


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Abstract

The present study is an exploration of marginalized social identities in the context of social movements. Data have been drawn from a larger project on youth political participation in the 2013 Gezi protests in Turkey. The study’s aim was to understand the ways in which individuals with subordinated minority identities negotiate participation in a heterogeneous social movement in which they are required to act together with majority identity groups. A Labovian analysis of 3 particular cases illustrating hesitations and discomfort about acting together with perceived oppressors in the protests is presented. Each case focuses on disadvantaged social identities, preexisting social hierarchies, and difficulties in welcoming a collective identity shared with other protesters. The analysis indicates that when protest participation requires individual protesters to act together with identity groups that do not recognize their identity as equal in social hierarchies, certain identity threats and dilemmas about participation in the movement emerge. The presence of similar others (i.e., other minority–disadvantaged members of the society), the possibility of developing a supraidentity over preexisting hierarchies and a strong investment in group efficacy appear to be significant in dealing with these dilemmas. A discussion with reference to larger societal dynamics, intersectionality, and narrative analysis is presented.

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