Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-10-2017

Major Department or Program



Gilbert Mireles


This study investigates the concepts of allyship and allies in social justice. Given the diverse understandings and uses of the allyship, this thesis intends to respond to the question: how do those in social justice groups understand and use allyship within the context of their work? Through ten in-depth interviews with those that work in various social justice groups, I investigate differing meanings these individuals attach to allyship and how it is used within the context of these groups. Interviews reveal that participants focused on three particular themes: the expected behaviors of allies in social justice, misuse of allyship as a status symbol, and (dis)connections between allyship and solidarity. The first theme speaks to the functional elements and purpose of allyship in social justice, while the latter two themes provide further definitions of allyship that contest the use of the term at all. I conclude with an analysis of these various understandings and uses, and argue that limiting elements of allyship perhaps detract from the goals of social justice in the larger context of social movements. In doing so, I propose a move towards the use of other frameworks of difference, such as solidarity, to strengthen the processes and goals of social justice.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Social justice -- United States -- 21st century, Allied forces -- Allyship, Social role, Justice (Society), Social psychology -- Role Theory, Social movements, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2017 -- Sociology Department

Permanent URL

Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).