Just Because We Don't See It, Doesn't Mean It's Not There: Everyday Resistance in Psychology

Christine Rosales, Regina Day Langhout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article outlines some contentions within conventional Western psychology and across the social sciences to define what counts as legitimate forms of “resistance” amongst members of historically marginalized groups (e.g. people of Color, working class/poor groups) in efforts to push back against injustice and foment social change. Without an expansion of what is understood as resistance, the discipline risks imposing narrow models and reifying deficit narratives about marginalized groups' capacity for resistance. In contexts where overt forms of resistance (e.g. marches), may lead to incarceration, deportation, death, or other egregious punishments, people located in “tight spaces” of oppression may engage in everyday off-stage practices of resistance that are covert and not observable to those in positions of privilege or who exercise state power. This article encourages psychologists to take a political stance in solidarity with marginalized groups to acknowledge that not all forms of resistance are observable or measurable. This stance can allow psychologists to begin to dismantle deficit narratives of people mistakenly understood as being passive in the face of oppression and instead observe agency, aspirations for change, and resistance.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Psychology
  • Politics and Social Change

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