Activist Identity as a Motivational Resource: Dynamics of (Dis)empowerment at the G8 Direct Actions, Gleneagles, 2005

Barr, Dermot and Drury, John (2009) Activist Identity as a Motivational Resource: Dynamics of (Dis)empowerment at the G8 Direct Actions, Gleneagles, 2005. Social Movement Studies, 8 (3). 243 - 260. ISSN 1474-2837

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Abstract

This paper describes a study examining how different groups at some of the G8 protests, Gleneagles, 2005, negotiated experiences of (dis)empowerment. A recent survey of protest events speculated that, as a function of their social identities, experienced activists have available to them particular strategies to counter disempowerment and hence provide motivation for continued involvement. The G8 direct actions in Gleneagles provided an opportunity to examine such dynamics of (dis)empowerment in situ. An ethnographic study was carried out covering the duration of the Gleneagles events, including interviews with forty participants. Two key findings were as follows. First, across the protest group as a whole there was little unification and no agreed definition of success. Consequently, feelings of empowerment varied systematically across the sample. The second key finding concerned changes in definitions of success among some participants. For experienced activists, their activist identity entailed access to sets of arguments and discussions with fellow activists which allowed potentially disempowering events to be (re-)interpreted positively. An example was the re-evaluation of the importance of the Stirling campsite, which came to be seen by some as a key achievement. We argue in conclusion, however, that some activist strategies to maintain empowerment, while appearing to be based on a radical position, can operate as a break on escalation. The analysis as a whole suggests both the subjective and objective significance of identity and empowerment in movement dynamics.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This paper was based on the final-year project of a student I supervised. I put together most of the write up.
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Dermot Barr
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:31
Last Modified: 18 May 2012 09:44
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13046
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