The Well-Being of Social Justice and Human Rights Activists

Dr. Cher Chen 12300 Ox Hill Rd Fairfax, VA 22033 Dr. Graziella McCarron 23937 Tenbury Wells Place Aldie, VA 20105 Anagha Sreevals 18514 Twisted Oak Court, South Chesterfield, VA 23834 Ellen Gurung 3153 Southfield Drive, Herndon, VA 20171 Gabriella Guerrieri 4736 Forestdale Ave Fairfax, VA 22032 Jasmin Enciu 2614 Melissa CT Fredericksburg, VA 22408 Rafaela Lucioni 4400 Rivanna River Way, Fairfax, VA 22030 Sarah Blanton 4021 Barbour Drive Fairfax, VA 22030 Office of Student Scholarship Creative Activities, & Research Johnson Center - Room 228 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030

Social Justice and Human Rights (SJHR) activists have played an essential role on college campuses by advocating for diversity and redress of injustices, and this advocacy often spills up to influence society towards progressive goals. However, academic pressures combined with the stress of identity-based activism often causes student activists to suffer from burnout, which is detrimental to the student’s well-being and threatens the longevity of social movements. This study assesses the well-being of 53 SJHR student activists at nine universities in the Washington-Metropolitan area whose activism relates to these three areas: 1) racial justice 2) immigration advocacy and 3) Women’s/LGBT+ Rights. Our research question is as follows: how do SJHR activists understand and perceive their own well-being and activism? The researchers conducted one hour semi-structured interviews to understand the self-care practices of student activists, and coded the transcripts of these interviews. The coded transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory. Our research led to the following conclusions: 1) identity is a significant motivator for engagement in SHJR activism 2) burnout causes and symptoms varied greatly between participants 3) rarely do formal or even informal institutional structures provide support for dealing with burnout 4) this generation of student activists have a more positive view of self-care than previous generations, and finally 5) student activists relied heavily on social support structures, described by some activists as community care. These findings contribute to the growing body of literature exploring the connection between activism and burnout, and are crucial for the development of support systems for SJHR activists. Ultimately, these findings may increase the impact and longevity of SJHR movements. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Sarah Blanton, Anagha Sreevals , Ellen Gurung , Gabriella Guerrieri , Jasmin Enciu , Rafaela Lucioni

Institution: George Mason University

Type: Poster

Subject: Sociology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7154