Disrupting the System Constructively: Testing the Effectiveness of Nonnormative Nonviolent Collective Action

Eric Shuman*, Tamar Saguy, Martijn van Zomeren, Eran Halperin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Collective action research tends to focus on motivations of the disadvantaged group, rather than on which tactics are effective at driving the advantaged group to make concessions to the disadvantaged. We focused on the potential of nonnormative nonviolent action as a tactic to generate support for concessions among advantaged group members who are resistant to social change. We propose that this tactic, relative to normative nonviolent and to violent action, is particularly effective because it reflects constructive disruption: a delicate balance between disruption (which can put pressure on the advantaged group to respond) and perceived constructive intentions (which can help ensure that the response to action is a conciliatory one). We test these hypotheses across 4 contexts (total N=3650). Studies 1–3 demonstrate that nonnormative nonviolent action (compared with inaction, normative nonviolent action, and violent action) is uniquely effective at increasing support for concessions to the disadvantaged among resistant advantaged group members (compared with advantaged group members more open to social change). Study 3 shows that constructive disruption mediates this effect. Study 4 shows that perceiving a real-world ongoing protest as constructively disruptive predicts support for the disadvantaged, whereas Study 5 examines these processes longitudinally over 2 months in the context of an ongoing social movement. Taken together, we show that nonnormative nonviolent action can be an effective tactic for generating support for concessions to the disadvantaged among those who are most resistant because it generates constructive disruption.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)819-841
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume121
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • Advantaged group
  • Collective action
  • Effectiveness
  • Social change
  • Social movements

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