Micro-activism and wellbeing: 1,000s of snowflakes and the potential avalanche

Jamie Callahan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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Activism, or acts of protest and challenge against wider power structures and injustices, has been emerging (or resurging) as a common and high-profile phenomenon in and around organisations over the last two decades. Over this time, evidence has highlighted that activism can have a positive but variable relationship with wellbeing, in hedonic, eudaimonic, social, and health terms. However, this evidence tends to focus on forms of activism where there is a public visibility and collective assemblage to the activism, rather than forms which may be hidden and individualistic. This ‘micro-activism’, though contested in terms of its efficacy, is particularly prevalent in contexts where there are salient and insidious power structures infiltrating all aspects of work (and life), and where open resistance can be highly damaging or life threatening. A contemporary example of this is the hyper-competitive context of academic life in Western universities, where the demands of extreme managerialism are, at their worst, systemically destroying lives. Drawing on auto/ethnographic accounts from academic life in different cultural contexts, we consider how micro-activism can potentially address positive drivers of wellbeing in organisations, particularly through addressing the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We conclude by outlining future directions of research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe SAGE Handbook of Organisational Wellbeing
EditorsTony Wall, Cary Cooper, Paula Brough
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781529760965, 9781529757187
ISBN (Print)9781529704860
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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