Communities as conduits of harm: A social identity analysis of appraisal, coping and justice-seeking in response to historic collective victimization

Blerina Këllezi*, Juliet R. H. Wakefield, Mhairi Bowe, Andrew Livingstone, Aurora Guxholli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social identity approach (SIA) research shows that community members often work together to support survivors of collective victimization and rectify social injustices. However, complexities arise when community members have been involved in perpetrating these injustices. While many communities are unaware of their role in fostering victimization, others actively deny their role and responsibility to restore justice. We explore these processes by investigating experiences of community violence and collective justice-seeking among Albanian survivors of dictatorial crimes. Survivors (N = 27) were interviewed, and data were analysed using theoretical thematic analysis guided by the SIA. The analysis reveals the diverse ways communities can become harmful ‘Social Curses’. First, communities in their various forms became effective perpetrators of fear and control (e.g., exclusion and/or withholding ingroup privileges) during the dictatorship because of the close relationship between communities and their members. Second, communities caused harm by refusing to accept responsibility for the crimes, and by undermining attempts at collective action to address injustices. This lack of collective accountability also fosters survivors' feelings of exclusion and undermines their hope for systematic change. Implications for SIA processes relating to health/wellbeing (both Social Cure and Curse) are discussed. We also discuss implications for understanding collective action and victimhood.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Early online date9 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2022

Keywords

  • appraisal
  • collective victimization
  • coping
  • justice
  • social curse
  • social identities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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