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Desiring to be desired: A discursive analysis of women’s responses to the ‘raunch culture’ debatesith collective actors:

Ethics Approval: 2012/129

Researcher: Avelie Stuart

Supervisors: Dr Emma Thomas and Associate Professor Ngaire Donaghue

Research Study Completed: 2013

Background

Previous qualitative research on engagement in politics and activism has identified a trend where people do not want to be called activists despite participating in activism (that is, actions aimed at creating social/political change). In a previous study by the researchers it was also identified that activists were referred to as protesters. Such a narrow definition of activism may hinder identification as an activist by people who are interested in engaging in a range of political causes.

This Study

In this study we wanted to investigate whether stereotypes of activists predict identification as an activist. Participants perceptions of activists were assessed using the stereotype content model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002), as well as measures generated from a previous study. We also asked questions about the kinds of barriers that might prevent people from participating in activism – such as conflicting life goals, and their perceptions of working in a collective action group.

Findings

Using multiple regression we found that stereotypes of activists did predict identification as an activist (16% of variance explained), and also that people can participate in some collective action without identifying as an activist; although it was in lower average amounts than people who do identify as an activist. Future research could extend these findings by determining if the reason why stereotypes predict identity are because either: 1) individuals have not yet experienced group socialization activities that would improve their perceptions of activists; or 2) if some individuals actively avoid participation in visible, group-based, activism because they have less than positive views of activists.