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

Blerina Kellezi, Juliet Ruth Helen Wakefield, Mhairi Bowe, Andrew Livingstone, Aurora Guxholli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Social identity approach (SIA) research shows that commu- nity members often work together to support survivors of collective victimization and rectify social injustices. How- ever, complexities arise when community members have been involved in perpetrating these injustices. While many communities are unaware of their role in fostering victimi- zation, 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. Sur- vivors (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) dur- ing the dictatorship because of the close relationship between communities and their members. Second, commu- nities 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. Implica- tions for SIA processes relating to health/wellbeing (both Social Cure and Curse) are discussed. We also discuss impli- cations for understanding collective action and victimhood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

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

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