INTS 304 Collective Identity Response (Analysis and arguments ("…
INTS 304 Collective Identity Response
Collective identity hailed as an important feature of social movements, Alberto Melucci shows that it is an essential part of analyzing social movements, by understanding their collective identity
Defining collective identity: I call collective identity this process of "constructing" an action system.
Key point - constructivist approach (the creation of intersubjective realities based on the actions of society and group) , collective identity is constructed sense of togetherness to form investment in the goals the group pursues
in this book, Melucci is arguing the usefulness of collective identity as an analytical tool for understanding and explaining social movements.
He goes on to argue that collective identity shapes the internal factors and processes of an organization
As well as the external factors - "rests on the ability of a movement to locate itself within a system of relations. A collective actor cannot construct its identity independently of its recognition (which can also mean denial or opposition) by other social and political actors"
Therefore, the organization is defined by itself as well as by the rest of society - "unresolved and unresolvable tension between the definition a movement gives of itself and the recognition granted to it by the rest of the society."
Analysis and arguments
"Conflict is the extreme example of this discrepancy and of the tension it provokes. In social conilicts reciprocity becomes impossible and competition for scarce resources begins. Both subjects involved deny each others' identities and refuse to grant to their adversary what they demand for themselves."
In line with Melucci's argument is that collective identity is not inherently good or bad, but can have both positive and negative consequences.
Internally, the effects are solidarity within the organization and a sense of recognition for being a part of the group identity.
External effects also include recognition that can differ from internal recognition, as well as conflict between organizations, different SMOs but possibly of the same SM, who compete for resources and deny each others' identity due to this competition
In this sense, collective identity can serve as a double edged sword
While this is true when examining individual SMOs, solidarity by collective identity across an entire social movement is hard to achieve and collective identity possibly gets in the way of the social movement as a whole. Collective identity is a process of group solidarity and not necessarily movement solidarity. Commitment to one’s organization and not necessarily the movement leads to in-group out-group formation between organizations within the same movement.
Collective identity can also be used as an incentive to join a social movement in the competition for membership. Promises of prestige, network, friendship and fun can be used to attract members to join a social movement organization over other organizations. “establishes the limits of a subject and distinguishes it from all others; it implies a relation between two actors that allows their (mutual) recognition”
Asking how social media changes collective identity and group solidarity
summarized into 3 understandings
Borrows the traditional understanding of collective identity, that somehow an individual becomes a part of a group and begins to identify with that group and by doing so stands for a collective agency.
the intersection of the two
Milan builds off of Melucci's constructivist approach saying that he is correct in the notion and processes of a constructed collective identity. What has changed with the advent of social media is that the construction of this identity is further maintained and fostered by the continual activation of relationships across the movement, becoming a part of the daily lives of individuals.
"social media have multiplied the opportunities and the venues for self expression and political intervention"
Has undoubtedly changed our perception of identity and how we related to others in the world
The material employed by social media is no longer physical (such as demonstrations and protests), but rather a symbolic representation of the movement (such as hashtags and memes)
Analysis and arguments
Critiques of Milan's work - social media could prove detrimental to social movements, as it provided an easily accessible tool that undercut the solidarity building process necessary to a cohesive collective identity and strong social movement.
However, that assumption can be rethought when taking into account the multitude of social media driven movements in recent years and their relative success. Occupy wall street being the first example has led to occupy movements throughout the western world beyond just NYC.
A characteristic is that they seem relatively short lived, but in that time are very strong and revolutionary and have garnered extremely high amounts of public and media attention, which are metrics of success for a social movement
The ease of accessibility is a strength because of the speed of which a movement is able to mobilize simply via a trending hashtag.