Transforming the boundaries of collective identity: from the 'local' anti-road campaign to 'global' resistance

J Drury, Stephen David Reicher, C Stott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is concerned with how people involved in ‘local’ protest might come to see themselves as part of wider social groupings and even global forces of resistance. An ethnographic study of the No M11 Link Road Campaign in London examines participants' definitions of their collective identity boundaries at different stages of involvement. Cross-sectional material from the beginning and later in the campaign shows that there was a transformation in collective identity boundaries towards a more inclusive definition of ‘community’. Analysis of participants' accounts before and after involvement in the eviction of a tree suggests the role of conflict with the police in producing an oppositional definition of the collective identity, facilitating links to other groups in resistance to illegitimate authority. Finally, biographical material indicates the implications of transformed identity boundaries for co-action with wider social groups. It is argued that the same intra- and inter-group processes that determine how identity boundaries extend to include a broader community might account for how people come to see themselves as part of a global social movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-212
JournalSocial Movement Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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