Cold comfort at the Magh Mela: social identity processes and physical hardship

Pandey, K., Stevenson, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2438-6425, Shankar, S., Hopkins, N.P. and Reicher, S.D., 2014. Cold comfort at the Magh Mela: social identity processes and physical hardship. British Journal of Social Psychology, 53 (4), pp. 675-690. ISSN 0144-6665

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Humans inhabit environments that are both social and physical, and in this paper we investigate if and how social identity processes shape the experience and negotiation of physically-demanding environmental conditions. Specifically we consider how severe cold can be interpreted and experienced in relation to group member’s social identity. Our data comprise ethnographic observation and semi-structured interviews with pilgrims attending a month-long winter Hindu religious festival that is characterised by near-freezing conditions. The analysis explores (a) how pilgrims appraise the cold and how these appraisals are shaped by their identity as pilgrims; (b) how shared identity with other pilgrims led to forms of mutual support that made it easier to cope with the cold. Our findings therefore extend theorising on social identity processes to highlight their relevance to physical as well as social conditions.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: British Journal of Social Psychology
Creators: Pandey, K., Stevenson, C., Shankar, S., Hopkins, N.P. and Reicher, S.D.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: December 2014
Volume: 53
Number: 4
ISSN: 0144-6665
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 23 Jan 2017 13:46
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2017 10:24

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