Moments of realization : the experiences, development, motivations and actions of student social justice allies

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Owney, Catherine Sanders

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Social justice allies make important contributions to fighting oppression in campus environments and in their communities after college. However, knowledge of how one becomes a social justice ally is limited. This qualitative, phenomenological study was designed in an effort to better understand the social justice ally development process and advances the pioneering work of Broido (1997, 2000). Examination of student’s understanding of her/his formative and college experiences helped determine how each alone and in combination with other factors or experiences, contributed to her/his ally development process. The role of student affairs professionals and programs in this process was also examined. This study was conducted at The University of Texas at Austin, which was selected because of the historical context, institutional environment and diversity-related initiatives implemented over the past 10 years. Review of the literature on ally development reveals that a majority of the existing research focuses on allies who take action against heterosexism or sexism. Through this research project I addressed this gap by including student allies who focus on other areas of privilege/oppression including classism and citizenship status. This study also expands the analysis of social justice allies by including examination of the influence of gender on the development, motivations and actions of allies.



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