Collective action by outsiders to group conflict and inequality

Saeri, Alexander Kresna (2015). Collective action by outsiders to group conflict and inequality PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2015.938

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Author Saeri, Alexander Kresna
Thesis Title Collective action by outsiders to group conflict and inequality
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2015.938
Publication date 2015-10-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Aarti Iyer
Winnifred R. Louis
Total pages 159
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
Every day, people around the world struggle and strive as they challenge injustice and inequality through collective action. They petition, they protest, and they call for changes in public policy to secure rights and status for themselves and for the groups to which they belong. From revolutions in the Arab Spring, to reactionary demonstrations by the US Tea Party, to worldwide protests of Russia's annexing of Crimea, the twenty-first century has seen people on the march. Most existing social psychological research into collective action has focused on understanding the motives for collective action by people who are directly involved in a context of group conflict or inequality ("insiders"). But will external observers ("outsiders") also take collective action when they encounter an external conflict? Who will they support in that conflict? Do their motives for intervening through collective action differ from those of insiders? In this thesis I aim to answer these questions.

Chapter 1 establishes the need to consider outsiders as potential collective actors. I review the existing collective action literature and discuss its historical and current focus on insiders. I then introduce outsiders, hypothesise how they may differ from insiders, and argue for the importance of understanding how outsiders respond when they encounter group conflict.

Chapter 2 includes two studies that sought to determine (1) whether outsiders are willing to take collective action on behalf of an external conflict, and (2) whether outsiders and insiders' motives for action differ. I used the Social Identity Model of Collective Action (SIMCA; van Zomeren, Postmes, & Spears, 2008) to measure appraisals of income inequality in the United States by residents of both the US (insiders) and India (outsiders). SIMCA is a well-established framework for explaining insider collective action, and specifies that group identification, perceived injustice, and perceived group efficacy are each unique motives for collective action. In both studies, outsiders were willing to take collective action. In addition, both outsiders' and insiders' motives for action could be captured using the SIMCA framework. Outsiders perceived the conflict as less self-relevant than insiders, and reported less identification with the disadvantaged group than insiders; a personal connection with the group conflict or inequality is thus necessary for outsiders to take collective action. To understand and predict outsider collective action, I must then investigate how outsiders come to see an instance of group conflict as self-relevant.

Chapter 3 explores how ideological orientations shape outsiders' appraisals of a group conflict, and whether outsiders may also choose to support a relatively advantaged group in conflict. In two studies, I investigated how Social Dominance Orientation (SDO; Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994) and Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA; Altemeyer, 1996) shape US residents' appraisals of separate conflicts between disadvantaged citizens and an advantaged government in Greece and in Russia (Study 1), and appraisals of a similar conflict in a fictional country (Study 2). Path analyses revealed that SDO and RWA shaped proximal antecedents of collective action, including group identification and felt anger towards an opposition group. In a model assessing support for an advantaged group, SDO and RWA were positively associated with advantaged group identification and anger at a disadvantaged group. In a model assessing support for a disadvantaged group, SDO and RWA were negatively associated with disadvantaged group identification and anger at an advantaged group. In line with SIMCA, identification and anger in turn predicted outsiders' intentions to take action on behalf of the disadvantaged group and, separately, the advantaged group. This chapter highlights the important role of stable, context-independent ideological orientations in shaping outsiders' appraisals of a specific instance of group conflict or inequality.

Chapter 4 investigates how personal values about change and the status quo shape outsiders' proximal appraisals of group conflict, and their subsequent collective action. From a foundation of Schwartz' (1994) universal human values work, I used a mixed-method approach in three studies to (1) explore and define the constructs of valuing change and valuing status quo, (2) develop reliable and valid measures of these constructs, and (3) assess their role in shaping outsiders' willingness to take collective action. Study 3 demonstrated that change values--but not status quo values--influence the contextual appraisals that outsiders (US residents) make when they encounter a hypothetical group conflict for the first time. Valuing change leads to appraisals of the conflict that are supportive of a disadvantaged group, and increases subsequent collective action intentions on behalf of that group. In addition, valuing change leads to appraisals that are not supportive of an advantaged group in conflict, and decreases subsequent collective action intentions on behalf of that group.

In the final chapter, I reflect on the key findings of the thesis. Outsiders are indeed willing to take collective action in support of groups in external conflict. This suggests that collective actors are not only those directly engaged in group conflict, but any individual who may appraise the conflict as relevant. Outsiders are willing to support either the advantaged or the disadvantaged group in external conflicts, suggesting that collective action work in general must recognise that third parties will not always sympathise with a disadvantaged group. Finally, outsiders' pre-existing ideologies and values shaped their contextual appraisals of novel conflicts and subsequent collective action. As a whole, this thesis demonstrates the need for the development of theories and frameworks of collective action that integrate pre-existing and contextual motives for collective action, and that can accommodate actors both within and outside a context of group conflict.
Keyword Collective action
Group Processes
Group conflict
Social change
Political ideology
Social identity

Document type: Thesis
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Created: Thu, 24 Sep 2015, 19:06:56 EST by Mr Alexander Saeri on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service