Putting the Group Back into Unions: A Social Psychological Contribution to Understanding Union Support

Leda Blackwood, George Lafferty, Julie Duck, Deborah Terry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


Industrial relations research that attempts to grapple with individuals’ union-related sentiments and activities often draws on one of two traditions of psychological research—the individual-level factors tradition (for example, personality and attitude-behaviour relations) and the social context tradition (for example, frustration-aggression and relative deprivation). This paper provides an overview of research conducted from within these traditions to explain union-related phenomena and identifies some of the limitations that arise as a consequence of a shared tendency to treat people in an atomistic fashion. The paper argues for an understanding of the psychological processes that underpin group-based action. To this end, it elaborates a theoretical framework based on social identity theory and self-categorisation theory that would allow us to examine the dynamic interplay between the individual, their cognitions and their environment. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of a specific case of union mobilisation, to indicate how this theoretical framework might aid empirical analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-504
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Industrial relations


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