Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology - Early View Articles, Pages ${blockparams.parentJournalIssue.pageRange}

Navigating activism within the academy: Consciousness building and social justice identity formation

Abstract The academy can provide rich opportunities for the scholar activist through critical discourse within the classroom, consciousness building via community engagement, and leveraging diverse connections. However, the academy often upholds systemic roadblocks, at times enacting policies that further perpetuate inequities. This qualitative study takes a narrative approach to exploring the life course histories of 15 activists occupying diverse yet intersecting dimensions in the spectrum of privilege and oppression. Interviewees are uniquely connected to the academy engaging in a variety of roles and anti‐racist social justice efforts within the northwestern United States. Applying a critical consciousness framework, results highlight key functions of critical reflection and critical action as interviewees engage in critical consciousness raising (i.e., systemic root cause analysis), social justice identity formation (i.e., the politicization of one's identity), and adapting individual theories of social change. Barriers within the institution are also identified concerning the mainstreaming of service learning and university‐required diversity courses, limited structural supports for activists of color, and the institutionalized co‐opting of social change efforts. Lastly, implications for activism, scholarship, and critical pedagogy within the academy are discussed.

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