Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Conflict Resolution

First Advisor

Karen Ross

Second Advisor

Guang-Xin Xie

Third Advisor

Darren Kew


In order to better understand how conflict resolution relates to activism efforts specifically for Generation Z individuals, generation Z individuals from University of Massachusetts Boston were interviewed. These interviews were grounded in literature related both to conflict resolution theory and empirical scholarship related to activism, cause-based marketing (also referred to as cause-related marketing), and the connection between conflict resolution and activism. Two major research questions were addressed: 1) How do Generation Z University of Massachusetts Boston students perceive their connection with activism efforts, and what role does cause-based marketing play in this perception?; and 2) What factors influence the decision to or type of activism engagement the UMass Boston Generation Z individuals chose to interact with?

Through this study, several prominent themes were illuminated including: contextual engagement, framing of conflict, unachievable social identities, defense of self-concept, power dynamics, and ethical consumerism with individualism vs collectivism. In analyzing these prominent themes, it became apparent that attitudes towards activism generally and cause-based marketing specifically were related to concern for the perceptions of how an unidentified “other” viewed the involvement. It also was illuminated that the awareness of this outside perception of activism efforts often lead to feelings of guilt or inadequacy on the part of the respondents. Based upon these findings, I put forth several recommendations for courses of action to address these attitudes and gaps in the connection of activism and conflict resolution studies including promotion of internet-based engagement, providing accessible means of activism engagement, empowering cause-based marketing efforts, open dialogues around activism, increased education efforts around conflict resolution and social activism literature, and reframing activism and peacebuilding as community efforts as opposed to responsibilities.


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