Social identity formation during the emergence of the Occupy movement

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The Occupy movement made a series of local ‘sit-ins’ in cities across the world in response to financial and political injustices. Prior to the movement’s emergence, the Internet provided a transnational forum for people across the world to discuss their opinions and coalesce about the financial and political context. Here, we analyze 5,343 posts on the ‘#OccupyWallStreet’ Facebook event page to identify linguistic markers of shared social identity formation.
Results suggest that discussants formed a shared identity if they agreed on both the desired change (the injunctive norm, ‘revoke corporate personhood’) and the pre-defined action (occupy Wall Street). Lines of consensus and dissensus on injunctive norms and actions delineated the development of both affirmational ingroup and negational outgroup identities. We conclude that online discussion can create both ingroups and outgroups through (in)validating ideas about social reformation and delineating shared psychological spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-832
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2016


  • Mass movements/collective
  • Social movements
  • Collective action
  • social identity


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