Yara El Banna
In a research titled “The Social Psychology of Protest,” Dr. Jacquelien Van Stekelenburg and Dr. Bert Klandermans explain why people take part in protests and marches and how it affects them psychologically.
As the research indicates, “collective identification, especially the more politicized form of it, intensifies feelings of efficacy. Next to shared fate, shared emotions and enhanced efficaciousness, identification with others involved generates a felt inner obligation to behave as a ‘good’ group member.”
On the appraisal theory of emotions, the researchers also suggest that “the main postulate of intergroup emotion theory is that when a social identity is salient, situations are appraised in terms of their consequences for the in-group, eliciting specific intergroup emotions and behavioral intentions. Thus, people experience emotions on behalf of their group when the social category is salient and they identify with the group at stake.”
Some members of the AUB community chose to share their experience and express how taking part in a protest or a march has influenced them on a personal level.
“Marching and protesting was a great way for me to feel like I’m not the only one who’s angry anymore. The whole atmosphere made me feel very powerful. I wasn’t afraid to scream my heart out,” said Media and Communications sophomore Nader Durgham.
“Seeing a big number of people on the streets is kind of a hope booster. It makes us feel like there is a chance for us after all. We’re fed up with the endless problems we’re facing and it’s more than time to react,” added Durgham.
Psychology Junior Hadi Afif also expressed his opinion on the matter.
“I believe marches and protests go beyond the direct purpose for which they are organized. They largely contribute in bringing people together, under one roof and voice. They are empowering, both on an individual and group level. They both give individuals the strength to voice their opinion in a group dynamic and groups to serve as strong forces of social and political change,” he said.
I have personally experienced this rush of emotions – this feeling of invincibility – the day of the women’s march. Here is my recalling of the episode.
I wake up to my alarm. I wash my face and brush my teeth. I put on my outfit and lace up my boots. I fill my bag with everything that I might need. I grab my umbrella, phone, and the posters I stayed up working on. I am set to go. I ride the service and ask him to take me to Sassine. I could feel the blood roaring in my ears and my heart racing.
It’s my first march.
It’s raining, but the place is flooded with people. And the march begins. Without being aware, my body is dragging me in the direction of the crowd. I want to be around all these people. I want to be here.
Taking part of such a large social activity made me realize many things, things that can be found in the study of social psychology. The truth is, living such an experience is not even close.
As a person that has walked in a march out of frustration and anger, I can assure you that being part of the bigger picture does not exactly make things easier, but it definitely makes the effort worth the while.
As I walked the march along with some members of the AUB community, I was mesmerized by the chants, by the crowd, and by the world surrounding us. I was unaware of the mass of the crowd, but I could feel its magnitude. Once I got the chance to get a glimpse of how big and diverse the crowd was, I got the chills.
I was so overwhelmed by the number of participants, by the unity, and by the support. I felt like I belonged to a bigger community; the community of women and men of different backgrounds that have all come together to fight for one thing.
For the first time in my life, I felt empowered.
Ever since then, I am not the same person. I am stronger. And whenever the next chance to participate in such an activity comes, be sure that you will see me standing there – ready to fight.