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A Labor of Love: The Microsocial Dynamics of Activist Burnout and Retention

dc.creatorJordan, Megan Lynette 2022
dc.description.abstractScholars have recently examined the cost of activism for activists, paying particular attention to burnout experiences in social justice spaces, yet we still know very little about the role of White supremacy to burnout experiences across race. Likewise, we know hardly anything about activists’ strategies of persistence. To understand the microsocial dynamics of activists’ burnout experiences and retention strategies, I directly examine how activists from a broad range of social movements, movement positions, and racial/ethnic identities describe their burnout experiences, burnout sources, and strategies they use to justify their own persistence. Drawing on three years of participant observation and 37 in-depth semi structured interviews, I make three major contributions. In Chapter 2, I find that White supremacy is a source of racially fueled burnout for Black activists, non-Black activists of color, and White activists. In Chapter 3, I interrogate activists’ structural strategies of persistence, and I propose a new concept, ‘transengagement,’ to describe the maneuverings activists enact in their career choices and locations of activism. Lastly, in Chapter 4, I argue that emotional dynamics are vital to understanding activist retention by analyzing the role of love in social movements. Taken together, this dissertation provides an individual level analysis of activists’ burnout experiences and coping strategies from a diverse sample of activists across a multimovement environment amidst the close of the Trump Era and alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.
dc.subjectculture of martyrdom
dc.subjectsocial movements
dc.subjectwhite supremacy
dc.titleA Labor of Love: The Microsocial Dynamics of Activist Burnout and Retention
dc.type.materialtext University Graduate School
dc.contributor.committeeChairMurray, Joshua

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