TitleThe link between moral anger and social activism
NameMaster, Talia Miriam (author), Gantwerk, Lew (chair), Boyd-Franklin, Nancy (internal member), Rutgers University, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology,
Description“In one autobiography after another we find the same story--the initial action for peace and justice is motivated by anger against injustice. Like the spark that ignites the fuel in an engine, anger is the stimulus that initiates action” (Adams, 2007, p. 10). This study explores one of the pathways to creating change, via examining the mechanism that allows some individuals who have experienced anger as a result of growing up under a system(s) of injustice to transform their anger into moral anger and subsequently into activism. Individuals who experience moral anger often perceive their anger as righteous and justified, linked to something greater than individual self-interest (Potter-Efron, 2005). A semi-structured interview that contained open-ended questions about the individual’s demographics and childhood, exposure to structural violence/social injustice, past and current involvement in social activism, description of moral anger, opportunities to express anger or discuss it with others, and hypotheses about the link between anger and activism was administered to fourteen individuals who self identified as activists. Grounded theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) was used to analyze the data. Many interviewees acknowledged times when they felt different from those around them during their childhood/adolescence and described being bothered by how people were treated during their childhood. While some were “intrinsically” drawn to activism, others came to activism through an external experience. The results indicate the importance of normalizing emotions, working together in a collective fashion, developing a critical consciousness through discrete educational experiences, a family legacy of activism, observing activism during childhood or adolescence, observing injustice, exposure to people from different cultures or with different opinions, surviving a family trauma, and accurately identifying emotions. Significant intersection was found between the factors, likely indicative of multiple pathways that work together in a cyclical manner to help individuals channel their anger into moral anger and subsequently into activism. Challenges to expect when channeling anger into activism, limitations of the study, and implications for future research are included. In addition, implications for future curriculum development, for adolescents who are currently experiencing anger as a result of social injustice, are also discussed.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 132-136)
Noteby Talia Miriam Master
CollectionGraduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.