How Should We Treat Each Other?

Kathleen M. Blee

in Democracy in the Making

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199842766
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199951161 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics

How Should We Treat Each Other?

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Expressions of friendship, respect, and fairness unify emerging activist groups and attract new recruits, while friction among members can fracture groups or leave activists feeling betrayed, frustrated, and angry. These make up a group=s interpersonal character. Activist groups rarely discuss openly how people treat each other although activists widely concur on how their group Afeels.≅ This chapter explains how emerging activist groups create implicit conventions about how members should interact. It traces what happens when groups lose a sense that dysfunctional dynamics can be changed and shows how this can be restored. The chapter concludes by comparing different interpersonal outcomes in an animal rights and an environmental group. Although the groups were identical in many ways B their members were almost all young, progressive, highly educated, and white and a number of people were members in both groups B they took quite different interpersonal paths. One became inclusive, Afun,≅ tightly-knit, and supportive; the other adopted a rigid, sober, and tense emotional style.

Keywords: dynamics; dysfunctional; friction; activism; interpersonal; emotion; process; animal rights; environmentalism; social movements

Chapter.  10518 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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