Lay theories about collective power in the context of racial oppression
Social psychological research has generally assumed that oppressed groups are powerless because they often have less control over resources and outcomes and power is usually defined as dominance or influence and control. We juxtapose this theoretical assumption with lay beliefs about the ingroup's collective power expressed in semi-structured interviews among Black Americans (N = 28). Thematic analysis revealed that participants’ beliefs about ingroup power varied: whereas some participants perceived that the ingroup lacked power, others believed that the ingroup did have power, or the potential to gain it. These beliefs were based on distinct lay theories about collective power, conceptualized at different levels of analysis: the intragroup level (power as community resilience, enhancing ingroup solidarity), intergroup level (power as resistance against oppression, building coalitions between groups) and structural level (power as relative control over resources). We discuss the theoretical and methodological contributions and implications for research on collective power.
European Journal of Social Psychology
Twali, Michelle Sinayobye; Overstreet, Nicole M.; and Vollhardt, Johanna Ray, "Lay theories about collective power in the context of racial oppression" (2023). Psychology. 537.