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From the Outside In: Crossing Boundaries to Build Collective Identity in the New Atheist Movement

Katja M. Guenther, Kerry Mulligan and Cameron Papp
Social Problems
Vol. 60, No. 4 (November 2013), pp. 457-475
DOI: 10.1525/sp.2013.60.4.457
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Page Count: 19
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From the Outside In
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This article presents an analysis of collective identity formation within an organization that is part of the new atheist movement to illuminate how a nascent social movement organization successfully builds collective identity through the construction of permeable boundaries. The organization delineates clear boundaries from outsiders so that it can foster collective identity among its members. Group processes that take place within the social movement organization facilitate collective identity formation through contrast to an abstracted and maligned other and through inclusion of former outsiders, namely the formerly religious. In fact, those who cross the boundary between atheists and religious believers make core contributions to supporting boundary maintenance within the organization. The analysis evidences the importance of boundary permeability for understanding collective identity.

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