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Action Continuum - A Self Assessment Model

Source: Department of Residential Life of University of New Hampshire. Becoming an Ally. <http://www.unh.edu/residential-life/diversity/> adapted from: Adams, Maurianne, et al. Teaching for Diversity & Social Justice, N.Y., Routledge, 1997.

How to use this tool

This Action Continuum can be used as a self assessment tool to help identify ‘adversary behaviour’ vs. ‘ally characteristics’. Consider the following questions: What activist work am I currently doing and where would I place it along the continuum? How could I change it to move further along the continuum? Do I put adequate time to stages further along in the continuum?

Works Against Social Justice

Works Towards Social Justice

(1)  Actively joins in  

       the behaviour

(2) No response

(3) Educate  


(4) Interrupt the


(5) Interrupt &


(6) Initiate an organized




1.         Actively Joins in the Behaviour

  • Actions that directly support the oppression of the target group
  • Making fun of people that don't fit into the traditional roles/characteristics of the agent group
  • Engaging in verbal and/or physical harassment of target group members

2. a)     No Response: Denying or Ignoring

  • Inaction that supports oppressive behaviours and discrimination against the target group
  • Unwillingness or inability to understand the effects of oppressive behaviours

2. b)     No Response: Recognizing but Not Action

  • Recognition of the harmful effects of oppressive behaviours/discrimination
  • This recognition does not result in action to interrupt
  • Taking action is prevented by a lack of knowledge of what to do, lack of willingness to do it

3.         Educate Oneself: (Awareness)

  • Learning more about own bias/fears/and comfort levels
  • Being able to explore and claim their own culture and identity
  • Recognition of the harmful effects of oppressive behaviours/discrimination
  • Educates oneself to learn more about the target group and about oppression

4.         Interrupt the behaviour: (Skills)

  • Increased confidence and ability to confront inappropriate behaviour related to multicultural issues
  • Willingness to provide opportunities for residents to learn more about multicultural issues

5. a)     Interrupt and Educate: Questioning and Dialoguing (Skills/Knowledge)

  • Recognize small cultural differences
  • Able to articulate the difference between oppression and discrimination
  • Attempt to begin educating others
  • Goes beyond just interrupting oppressive behaviours to interaction & engaging people in dialogue

5. b)     Interrupt and Educate: Supporting and Encouraging (Knowledge/Social Action)

  • Supporting and encouraging the anti-oppressive actions of others
  • Risk-takers in interactions involving multicultural issues
  • Actively educate on multicultural issues
  • Willingness to reach "out of their comfort zone"

6.         Initiate an Organized Response (Social Action)

  • Actively anticipate and identify interpersonal, institutional, and/or societal oppressive actions and practices, and works to change them
  • Experience and celebrate different cultures


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