Native Land Reclamation: Predicting Motivation to Participate in Collective Action

Giguère, B., Lalonde, R. N., & Jonsson, K. (2012). The influence of traditions on motivated collective actions: A focus on native land reclamation. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 44(3), 182-191.

In order to predict whether individuals will join in collective action, most psychological studies turn to social identity theory. According to this approach, people are more likely to join in collective action if they have a strong collective identity, particularly if their group is perceived as threatened in some way. Giguère, Lalonde, and Jonsson (2012) surveyed 157 individuals from the Native communities in the vicinity of the Caledonia land reclamation efforts in Canada. They found that in addition to collective identity, an important, independent predictor of willingness to engage in collective action was the degree to which people endorsed traditional beliefs. In this case, the critical traditional beliefs dealt with how people viewed land, and involved the idea that land is a living being, central to the health and well-being of its inhabitants, as opposed to an object that can be owned. In addition to mainstream psychological methods, this study used a measure based on the indigenous concept of the medicine wheel. Participants were asked to choose a quadrant of the wheel –mental, spiritual, emotional, or physical – to indicate the aspect of themselves that became most engaged when thinking about the land claim. Participants who selected the physical quadrant were more likely to support traditional beliefs and were more likely to have been present at the land claim site. According to Giguère, Lalonde, and Jonsson, a better understanding of motivation to participate in collective action is important because of the positive effect such efforts may have on sociopolitical change and the well-being of social groups.

Making Connections

Collective action
Indigenous psychology
Social identity

Media Supplement

This site, developed to outline the goals and progress of the Six Nations land reclamation efforts in Caledonia, Ontario, provides insight into cultural differences in the values associated with land.