Tag Archives: collective action

Will Libya be the next Egypt and Tunisia?

Libyans in Dublin march in protest against al-Gaddafi

Representatives of the Libyan Community in Ireland handed a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs today urging the Government, the EU and the UN to stand by the people of Libya. Courtesy of William Murphy, 21 February 2011. http://www.flickr.com/photos/80824546@N00/5465577884

Will Colonel Muarrar al-Gaddafi, the authoritarian leader of Libya, be able to maintain power amid the current protests and uprising or will the story of Libya become similar to that of Egypt and Tunisia?

Al-Gaddafi has brutally controlled Libya without impunity for the last 42 years.  He is one of the longest serving leaders of the country, and he has experienced little threat from dissent or protest in the past because of his repressive methods, but the political climate in the region and the country may empower Libyans to challenge the status quo.

According to research by Drury and Reicher (2005) Libyans might be empowered by protest against al-Gaddafi’s government if collective action is understood as an expression of social identity.  Other research by Mannarini, Roccato, Fedi, and Rovere (2009) similarly points to the role of social identity in determining support for protest, as well as the perception of injustice and the perception that a vast majority of people are behind the movement.  Political pressure, not just from within Libya but from the international community, is highlighting the illegitimacy of al-Gaddafi’s rule.  Emboldened social identity of the Libyan people re-framed in the context of the political changes in Egypt and Tunisia may be enough to tip the tides.

To read more:

Libya: Past and future? – al-Jazeera, 24 February 2011

Drury, J. & Reicher, S. (2005). Explaining enduring empowerment: a comparative study of collective action and psychological outcomes. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35, 35–58.

Mannarini, T., Roccato, M., Fedi, A. & Rovere, A. (2009). Six Factors Fostering Protest: Predicting Participation in Locally Unwanted Land Uses Movements. Political Psychology, 30, 895–920.

Collective Action in the Age of Twitter

How are technological advances that allow for the rapid dissemination of information, such as Twitter, changing methods of protest and collective action movements across the world? Although there is no single or simple answer, psychologists, sociologists and other interdisciplinary scholars are engaging the question.

During the protests in Iran Twitter was hailed as a powerful medium that was able to engage supporters across the world as well as serve as one of the only news outlets that could permeate efforts of censorship. Months later, however, Twitter was again implicated in protest action in the United States. Although this time it was grounds for arresting an activist who was using Twitter to inform protesters about police location.

These two examples show both the ingenuity of protesters who make use of new technology and the subsequent need for those in positions of power to develop new ways of regulating or suppressing collective action. The most recent issue of Journal of Social Issues looks more closely at the social and psychological components of collective action and asks a number of questions about what motivates individuals to participate in movements and what steps are involved in engaging individuals to move from sympathizers to more active members of a movement. The authors also examine social movements formed around race, gender, class-status, and political opinion and note the things we can learn from seeing how these movements operate differently. At Queens College, in New York, scholars are also gathering to understand and theorize on the ways in which governments are changing their methods for dealing with protests and collective action.

In what ways do you think technology, globalization, and the economy have changed collective action and protesting? Does individual motivation to join a movement seem more or less likely in this era than in the past? How has the role of the “state” shifted in response to these changes?

square-eye Journal of Social Issues, The Social and Psychological Dynamics of Collective Action

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