Protesting for stability or change? Definitional and conceptual issues in the study of reactionary, conservative, and progressive collective actions

Emma F. Thomas, Danny Osborne

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

7 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last quarter of a century, social psychological research on collective action has grown exponentially and progressed through four distinct phases. While the first phase showed that identity, efficacy, and injustice motivate the aggrieved to protest on behalf of their ingroup, the second phase acknowledged that protests could involve collaborations between the disadvantaged and their advantaged allies. The third phase of research examined reactionary movements by integrating ideology and acknowledging that advantaged groups can protest to protect or expand their privileged status. The research showcased in this special issue highlights a fourth phase of collective action by illustrating its dialectical nature and recognising the opposing agendas advanced by structurally disadvantaged and advantaged groups. We also advance a two-dimensional taxonomy differentiating between the goals (Inclusive vs. Exclusive) and societal implications (Challenge vs. Defend the Status Quo) of collective action. In doing so, we provide some of the necessary conceptual and definitional foundations for the next generation of research on collective action and social change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-993
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date10 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • collective action
  • dialectical
  • ideology
  • social change
  • social identity
  • status

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