Impresarios of identity: how the leaders of Czechoslovakia's ‘Candlelight Demonstration’ enabled effective collective action in a context of repression

Klara Jurstakova*, Evangelos Ntontis, Stephen Reicher

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of identity leadership (Haslam et al., The new psychology of leadership: Identity, influence and power, Routledge, 2020) in the 1988 'Candlelight Demonstration' in Bratislava which was a precursor to the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The analysis is based on interviews with the five remaining leaders of the demonstration and addresses three core issues. First, how leaders use performative means (identity impresarioship) as well as limited rhetorical means (identity entrepreneurship) to assemble protestors and create a sense of shared identity amongst them. Second, how these strategies of mobilization are linked to the highly repressive context in which the demonstration took place. Third, we analyse the extent to which these strategies are rooted in a psychological understanding of the processes of mobilization. We conclude by addressing the implications for our general understanding of leadership and the mobilization of collective action and the need for more research into these processes under conditions of repression.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date22 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Collective action
  • Identity leadership
  • Mobilization
  • Repression
  • Social identity

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