Doing democracy: The social psychological mobilization and consequences of collective action

Emma F. Thomas, Winnifred R. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Participating in collective actions, or acts of social protest, is one of the primary means that citizens have of participating in democracy and seeking social change. In this article, we outline the ways in which: social identity provides a psychological foundation for collective actions; social norms shape the mobilization and particular direction (disruptive vs. conventional) of that protest; and participating in collective actions is psychologically consequential and sociopolitically complex. We use this platform to put forward a series of practical implications for activists, social movement and nongovernmental groups, and authorities, who seek to mobilize consequential collective action. We conclude that collective action is a fundamental tool in the battle for social equality and justice. To better understand, and engage with this phenomenon, policy makers and practitioners need to attend to its origins in collective, group-based psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-200
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Issues and Policy Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective Action
  • social protest
  • social change
  • group-based psychology
  • Pressure groups
  • social psychological analysis
  • consequences of collective action


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