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activism, activism, solidarity, ally activism, social identity, advantaged group activists


The actions of advantaged group activists (sometimes called “allies”) are admirable, and they likely make meaningful contributions to the movements they support. However, a nuanced understanding of the role of advantaged group allies must also consider the potential challenges of their participation. Both in their everyday lives and during their activist work, advantaged group allies are especially likely to have direct contact with disadvantaged group members. This paper considers when such contact may harm rather than help resistance movements by disadvantaged groups. We also suggest that to avoid these undermining effects, advantaged group allies must effectively communicate support for social change, understand the implications of their own privilege, offer autonomy-oriented support, and resist the urge to increase their own feelings of inclusion by co-opting relevant marginalized social identities.


23 February 2017: At the time of publication, Sheridan College author Lisa Droogendyk was associated with Simon Fraser University.


Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences


School of Social and Life Sciences


Journal of Social Issues



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Droogendyk, L., Wright, S. C., Louis, W. R., & Lubensky, M. (2016). Acting in solidarity: Cross-group contact between disadvantaged group members and advantaged group allies. Journal of Social Issues, 72(2), 315 - 334. doi:10.1111/josi.12168