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The Psychology of Effective Activism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 July 2021

Robyn Gulliver
University of Queensland
Susilo Wibisono
University of Queensland
Kelly S. Fielding
University of Queensland
Winnifred R. Louis
University of Queensland


This Element reviews the social psychology of effective collective action, highlighting the importance of considering activists' goals, timeframes, and psychological perspectives in seeking to conceptualise this construct. A novel framework 'ABIASCA' maps effectiveness in relation to activists' goals for mobilisation and change (Awareness raising; Building sympathy; turning sympathy into Intentions; turning intentions into Actions; Sustaining groups over time; Coalition-building; and Avoiding opponents' counter-mobilisation). We also review the DIME model of Disidentification, Innovation, Moralization and Energization, which examines the effects of failure in creating trajectories of activists' disidentification from collective action; innovation (including to radicalisation or deradicalisation); and increased moral conviction and energy. The social psychological drivers of effective collective action for four audiences are examined in detail, in four sections: for the self and supporters, bystanders, opponents, and for third parties. We conclude by highlighting an agenda for future research, and drawing out key messages for scholars.
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Online ISBN: 9781108975476
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 12 August 2021

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