Identity formation in street demonstrations

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Every day, somewhere in the world, citizens take to the streets to vent their anger about grievances they share. A central mechanism in our understanding of protest behavior is identity formation. To experience shared grievances and emotions, a shared identity must develop. We address the question with whom protesters identify. Rather than examine whether dynamics of identification determine mobilization and participation, we will assess whether dynamics of mobilization and participation foster identification. We distinguish deductive and inductive identity formation. Taking the deductive route, people deduce a shared identity from a higher-order category membership they share; for example, being a union member. Taking the inductive route, a collective identity emerges as group members interact. Hypotheses derived from this conceptualization are tested. We present data on identification from a study of 81 demonstrations and 16,597 participants in eight European countries. We find that inductive and deductive identity formation have different antecedents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentities in Everyday Life
EditorsJan E. Stets, Richard T. Serpe
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780190873097
ISBN (Print)9780190873066
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Identity
  • Identity formation
  • demonstrations


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