The phenomenology of empowerment in collective action


Correspondence should be addressed to John Drury, Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK (e-mail:


Recent research has hypothesized that empowerment can arise from collective action through collective self-objectification (CSO), defined as action that actualizes participants' social identity against the power of dominant groups. Activists (N=37) described several experiences that made them feel empowered (and disempowered). Among the various explanations they offered for these feelings, the most prominent were CSO, unity, and support (or their absence). CSO was also predictive of reports of positive emotion, although unity was the best predictor of reports of further involvement. Overall, the study suggests that actualizing one's social identity through collective action has personal as well as political significance.