This research was supported under Australian Research Council's Discovery Projects funding scheme (projects DP0343941 and DP0770731). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Research Council.
Collective Action as the Material Expression of Opinion-Based Group Membership
Article first published online: 2 NOV 2009
© 2009 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 65, Issue 4, pages 839–857, December 2009
How to Cite
McGarty, C., Bliuc, A.-M., Thomas, E. F. and Bongiorno, R. (2009), Collective Action as the Material Expression of Opinion-Based Group Membership. Journal of Social Issues, 65: 839–857. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2009.01627.x
- Issue published online: 2 NOV 2009
- Article first published online: 2 NOV 2009
In this article, we argue that progress in the study of collective action rests on an increasingly sophisticated application of the social identity approach. We develop the view, however, that the application of this theoretical perspective has been limited by theoretical and empirical difficulties in distinguishing between social categories and psychological groups. These problems have undermined the ability of researchers to correctly specify the collective identities that actually underpin many instances of collective action. As a partial solution to this problem we focus on collective identities based on shared opinion (opinion-based groups). We develop the proposition that much collective action reflects the crystallization or instantiation of opinion-based groups. We also outline an intervention aimed at stimulating commitment to collective action through group-based interaction involving opinion-based group members. We conclude by emphasizing that opinion-based groups tend to be most successful when they present themselves as being representative or aligned with dominant, positively valued social categories such as nations.