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(en) UK, Media, Resistance is not only fertile but also healthy - Protesting May Be Good for Your Health

From Viviane Lerner <vlerner@interpac.net>
Date Tue, 24 Dec 2002 05:05:12 -0500 (EST)


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Protesting May Be Good for Your Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!
- Taking part in protests and demonstrations can be
good for your physical and mental health, a new British study suggests.

Psychologists at the University of Sussex 
found that people who get involved in 
campaigns, strikes and political demonstrations 
experience an improvement in psychological 
well-being that can help them overcome stress, 
pain, anxiety and depression.

The finding fits in with other studies 
suggesting that positive experiences
and feeling part of a group can have 
beneficial effects on health.

"Collective actions, such as 
protests, strikes, occupations and
demonstrations, are less common in the 
UK than they were perhaps 20 years
ago," researcher Dr. John Drury said 
in a statement.

"The take-home message from this research 
therefore might be that people
should get more involved in campaigns, 
struggles and social movements, not
only in the wider interest of social 
change but also for their own personal
good."

The results emerged from in-depth 
interviews with nearly 40 activists from a
variety of backgrounds. Between them, 
they had more than 160 experiences of
collective action involving groups of 
demonstrators protesting against a
range of issues. These included fox-
hunting, environmental damage and
industrial matters.

Volunteers were asked to describe what 
it was about taking part in such
collective action that made them feel 
so good.

"Many published activist accounts refer to 
feelings of encouragement and
confidence emerging from experiences of 
collective action," said Drury. "But
it is not always clear how and why such 
empowerment occurs, so we aimed to
explain what factors within a collective 
action event contribute to such
feelings."

He said the interviews revealed that 
the key factors were that participants
felt they had a collective identity 
with fellow protestors. They also
derived a sense of unity and mutual 
support from taking part.

Such was the strength of the feelings 
they experienced that the effects
appear to be sustained over a period 
of time.

"Empowering events were almost without 
exception described as joyous
occasions," said Drury. "Participants 
experienced a deep sense of happiness
and even euphoria in being involved 
in protest events. Simply recounting the
events in the interview brought a smile 
to the face of the interviewees."


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