Department or Program



The proliferation of contemporary, left-leaning social movements aimed at countering societal injustices represents popular and significant avenues for activist engagement among young adults. Compared to the social movement activity of previous generations, present-day activism encompasses a diversity of loosely organized, cause-driven movements, which embrace notions of intersectional identities and rely on diverse forms of participation to advance their goals. Given the increased opportunities for social movement participation, the high visibility of contemporary activism due to social media, and the rejection of hierarchical movement leadership structures, barriers to social movement involvement have declined dramatically and millennials participate in activist efforts at significant rates. However, despite the changing nature of social movements and the embrace of horizontal, “flat” leadership models, levels of approbation are not equally divided within a group; some participants inevitably receive greater recognition for their contributions to the cause than others. This thesis explores whether certain forms of activist participation are perceived to be valued more than others based on cultural privileging of extraverted over introverted personality traits and styles of engagement. Based on quantitative and qualitative data collected through a survey and interview process with college-age social movement participants, I conclude that despite widely held conceptions and stereotypes about activists and their personality traits, many highly engaged students do not conceive of themselves and their contributions in stereotypical ways. The disjuncture between students’ personal understandings of their efforts and the cultural trope of an activist, suggests potential points of reconsideration for activist and social justice movements.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Duina, Francesco

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.