Understanding Distancing Behaviors in Social Justice Activism and Organizations: An Interpretive Descriptive Study
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The United States has seen many social justice movements over time, seeking to improve conditions for various populations. While many of these movements have made significant changes and improvements over time, they have also been prone to various setbacks. While there are many factors that contribute to the difficulties faced by social justice movements and organizations, one common difficulty is the presence of distancing, division, and oppression within movements, especially when more centered members of a movement contribute to the marginalization and oppression of the more marginalized members (Crenshaw, 1991; Dzodan, 2011; Lorde, 1998; Smith, 2006). Recent studies and theoretical frameworks support the idea that marginalization and shame contribute to diminished participation in social justice movements (Brown, 2007; Greene & Britton, 2015; Jordan, 2018; Kim, Kendall, & Chang, 2016; Stewart & Collins, 2014; Verdinelli & Kutner, 2016). This paper presents an exploratory study of adults who have experienced distancing and/or exclusion in social justice activism and/or organizations, using multiple interviews with each participant in order to gather rich qualitative data. This study seeks to improve understanding, and possibly to discover some ways to mitigate distancing behaviors within social justice movements.