Self, Identity, and Social Movements

Self, Identity, and Social Movements

Self, Identity, and Social Movements

Self, Identity, and Social Movements

Excerpt

This volume seeks to develop the potential of social psychological work on self and identity for the theory of and research on social movements. The preparation and presentation of such a volume are timely: today, a strong current of interest in social psychological concepts and ideas exists among social movement scholars, and a good deal of that interest reflects the concepts of self and identity. Yet there is also considerable confusion about the meaning and implications of diverse conceptions of self and identity in the social psychological literature as well as the diverse disciplinary and theoretical traditions from which these conceptions stem; and there is considerable confusion in the social movement literature about such matters and their relevance for social movement analyses. This circumstance means that the concepts of self and identity are less useful to students of social movements than they might otherwise be. The present volume reflects an effort to improve that situation.

A brief review of the history of social movement theorizing and research, particularly among sociologists in the United States, sets the stage for the remaining chapters in the volume. Those who know this history will be aware that there is considerable irony in the assertion, made above, that social movement scholars currently find something of interest in social psychological concepts and ideas. Much early work on social movements was strongly rooted in a social psychology that concerned itself with “collective behavior,” a subtopic of which was “social movements.” Nevertheless, not too long ago and in some respects even today, the suggestion that social psychological concepts and theory relating to self and identity . . .

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