The Psychology of Political Participation and Social Movement Activism: An Embedded Perspective

The ECPR General Conference Section 62, Prague 7-10 September 2016

Deadline for submissions 15 FEBRUARY 2016 via the MyECPR account.

Section Chair: Kateřina Vráblíková (University of Mannheim, kvrablik@mail.uni-mannheim.de)
Section Co-Chair: Sonja Zmerli (Sciences Po Grenoble, sonja.zmerli@iepg.fr)

The decision to become active in politics originates in people’s minds. Psychological factors, such as values, motivations and emotions, have been found to be important triggers of political activism. Psychological forces also mediate the effects of other factors determining people’s political participation. Social movements and politicians play a prominent role in the mobilization of emotions, values and opinions. Yet, psychological factors are not only important for individual political behavior, but also play a crucial role for collective outcomes, such as movements and protest events.

The section particularly focuses (1) on how psychological traits (norms, values, attitudes, emotions and feelings, identity, knowledge, etc.) interact with other factors influencing political action, such as socio-political context, mobilization, material conditions and biological traits, (2) on how psychological mechanisms connect those traits and conditions with individual and collective participatory outcomes, and (3) on the role of social movements in “psychology” of political action. This section also aims to bring together qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of psychological factors and process in political activism. Most qualitative studies formulate various psychological mechanisms but do not really examine controlled effects on activism whereas most of quantitative studies treat various psychological factors in a rather isolated and static manner (unconditional effects of variables)
rather than as mechanisms or moderators. The goal of the section is to integrate the two approaches and study psychology of political activism in an embedded way.

We particularly invite paper proposals revolving around the following themes:

SOCIALIZATION FOR PARTICIPATION
LIFE EVENTS AND ACTIVISM
PSYCHOLOGICAL LINKAGES BETWEEN MACRO-CONTEXT AND PARTICIPATION
IDENTITY, FRAMING, EMOTIONS AND MOBILIZATION
ISSUE POSITIONS, PARTY ID, PARTICIPATION
BIOLOGICAL SOURCES OF ENGAGEMENT

Ideas for papers include discussions of whether different types of cognitive mechanisms (e.g. commitment, moral shock) play a role in triggering and performing different types of action (political violence, charity work, voting etc.), how political actors frame emotions and particular issues and their role in mobilization, what mechanisms tend to
explain the relationship between genetic predispositions, attitudinal variables and political action, how various psychological processes (identity change, judgments) contribute to large-scale participatory outcomes like mobilization of movements, and new empirical applications of the mechanism-based approach, etc.

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