Adding rainbow filters in support of LGBTQ+ movements or changing profile pictures to black squares to show support for the BlackLivesMatter movement have become common contemporary expressions of solidarity. However, these actions are often criticized as being ‘performative’ and falling short of genuine social change. Despite its popularity, little is known about what performative allyship is and what its pitfalls or potential benefits may be. We review the existing psychological literature on intergroup relations and allyship to provide a definition and framework for studying performative allyship and its consequences for social change. We propose that the term performative allyship refers to easy and costless actions that often do not challenge the status quo and are motivated primarily by the desire to accrue personal benefits. The literature suggests that engaging in performative allyship may have a negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of disadvantaged groups, but also on allies. We discuss negative and some positive consequences of engagement in performative allyship on disadvantaged groups, allies and society at large and provide directions for future research.
Kutlaca, M., & Radke, H. R. (2023). Towards an understanding of performative allyship: Definition, antecedents and consequences. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 17(2), Article 12724. https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12724