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The importance of group identity processes in involvement in social movement organizations: the case of Attac France and Germany

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This research evaluates the relative and absolute importance of group identity processes in an individual's decision to become and remain active in a social movement organization (SMO). Mainly through interview research with the members of Attac Germany and France, I discover that the presence of a comfortable and communicative group atmosphere is a necessary, but insufficient, condition for movement activity. Individuals are primarily involved in SMOs because they want to change policy and public opinion or to give meaning to their lives. However, this does not imply that the activists devalue communal bonds and a welcoming group atmosphere. Rather, they take both as a prerequisite for engagement. Yet, rifts and atmospheric disruptions can be a sufficient cause for which people leave an organization. In particular, those members who seek policy change are quick to desert a group once it is shattered by internal disharmony.

Keywords: Attac; group identity processes; participation in social movement organizations

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Political Studies,University of Ottawa, Ottawa,Ontario, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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