Identity Politics: Authoritarian or Democratic?

Cate Pollini

 

The concepts of race, gender and ethnicity have been a long-lasting debate for years. However, elected officials who represent minorities have been elected to governments after longstanding prejudices that have been held against them. Each society is constructed around boundaries that involve “in-groups” and “out-groups.” These groups or identities are formulated around race, gender, and ethnicity. Gender is a socially constructed idea in which biological sex (male/female) does not determine gender. Race is also not a biological concept as it can be determined through common ancestry and traditions. Ethnicity is often identified by the type of national identity, how the state deals with citizenship/residency and participation in public life.

 

In an interview conducted by The Economist, Francis Fukuyama discusses identity politics. Identity politics describes how people will choose their political beliefs based on their gender, ethnicity, race or sex rather than from the broader political spectrum. Fukuyama also expresses the need for a country to yield a creedal national identity meaning that one’s identity is based on their creed instead of their biology. For example, Hungarian identity is based on Hungarian ethnicity, so they have no room for those in their country who are not Hungarian.  

 

How does identity politics coincide with authoritarianism and democracy?

 

In regards to authoritarianism, some cultural groups will violate identity politics. In Iran, women are forced to wear hijabs to conceal their body and show their obligation to their religion as well as participate in arranged marriages. This is the regime undermining an individual’s right by using identity politics. On the other hand, Britain, a long-lasting democracy have used identity politics to initiate Brexit. Instead of being apart of the EU, British citizens would rather suffer economic consequences than give up their strong rooted traditions.  

 

Citations:

Tyler J. Dickovick and Jonathan Eastwood, Comparative Politics: Integrating Theories, Methods, and Cases, (New York, Oxford University Press, 2016), 326-337. 

Open Future by A.L. Can Liberal Democracies Survive Identity Politics? www.economist.com. https://www.economist.com/open-future/2018/09/30/can-liberal-democracies-survive-identity-politics

Author: Cate Pollini

Cate attends Holderness School and is apart of the graduating class of 2019. She resides in Kennebunk, ME. Next fall she will be attending Gettysburg College in hopes to pursue a major in History or Globalization studies. Outside of school, Cate spends her time in her high school's theater productions, hanging out with her friends or finding the best cup of coffee.

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