Black Lives Matter: The Role of Emotions in Political Engagement

by Rune Ellefsen and Sveinung Sandberg

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In the spring of 2020, the Black Lives Matter protests shook the Western world. Spreading from the USA, demonstrations diffused globally, especially to Europe, calling out racism in its different forms. Emotions ran high and were pivotal in igniting protests. The role of emotion in social movements has received renewed scholarly attention during the last decades. It plays an important role at every stage of protest, but few studies have traced its part in individuals’ shifting engagement over time. This study examines the role of emotion during the global wave of Black Lives Matter protests. Based on retrospective interviews with 38 participants in Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Norway, we identify the role of emotion before, during and after their participation. Our findings help explain how individual patterns of participation develop in the course of a wave of protest, and also provide insights into the consequences of the recent Black Lives Matter protests in Europe.

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Published Aug. 23, 2022 9:40 AM - Last modified Aug. 23, 2022 9:40 AM