Cold comfort at the Magh Mela: Social identity processes and physical hardship

Kavita Pandey, Clifford Stevenson, Shail Shankar, Nicholas P. Hopkins, Stephen D. Reicher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
466 Downloads (Pure)


Humans inhabit environments that are both social and physical, and in this article weinvestigate if and how social identity processes shape the experience and negotiation ofphysically demanding environmental conditions. Specifically, we consider how severe coldcan be interpreted and experienced in relation to group members’ social identity. Ourdata comprise ethnographic observation and semi-structured interviews with pilgrimsattending a month-long winter Hindu religious festival that is characterized bynear-freezing conditions. The analysis explores (1) how pilgrims appraised the cold andhow these appraisals were shaped by their identity as pilgrims; (2) how shared identitywith other pilgrims led to forms of mutual support that made it easier to cope with thecold. Our findings therefore extend theorizing on social identity processes to highlighttheir relevance to physical as well as social conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-690
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date22 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cold comfort at the Magh Mela: Social identity processes and physical hardship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this