Politics Of Identity


During the last few years, there has been an increase in theoretical interest in citizenship as the subjects become more vital in modern day society. Indeed, with the intensified globalization and internationalization, the subject is becoming popular since many people are now leaving their home countries to other countries for different reasons. For instance, as the people relocate, the kind of preferences that they are supposed to receive in the countries that they have moved into has become a major topic of discussion since on one hand, there are those who are opposed to the view that the migrants should be considered as the citizens while on the other hand, there are those who support the view that the migrants should be considered to be equal to the citizens of the country. Nevertheless, there is another form of politics that is known as identity politics and it is having some impacts on the citizenship discourse. This paper focuses on the subject of identity politics and seeks to investigate whether identity politics pose a challenge to citizenship discourse.

Discussion on identity politics

The term identity politics has been used for many years (Marion, 1997). As far as its meaning is concerned, it can be explained that identity politics entails political arguments that centers upon the interests and views of groups with which people tend to relate with. Thus, identity politics can be said to entail the ways through which the politics of people might be determined by the elements of their identity through loosely linked social organizations (Lloyd, 2005). For example, social groupings based on ethnicity, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, interests and professions could all be considered to be different forms of identity politics. In addition to that, it can be explained that the term identity politics and movements connected to identity politics surfaced in the late 20th Century and can mostly be identified in class movements, gay movements, disability movements and ethic movements among others (Cressida, 2012; Kauffman, 1990).

As far as this paper is concerned, the definition of identity politics that has been used is that identity politics entails the social as well as political movements that expresses their pursuit for freedom founded on a shared perspective of identity that, by specifying their oppression, concurrently develop collective qualities for those who happen to be inside the collectivity of concern. In addition, it is also important to note that the diversity of identity politics has implied that identity politics signifies a loose mixture of political projects that each specifies a joint with a characteristically varying social location that has for some time been mistreated, expunged, forgotten or even oppressed (Heyes, 2007).

Discussion on whether identity politics pose a challenge to citizenship discourse

To commence the discussion as to whether identity politics pose any form of challenge to citizenship discourse, it is vital to initially discuss that there has been a change on the foundations of the politics of citizenship. The changes in the discourses and practices of citizenships to which the title of people refer are strongly connected to relevant aspects of modern life. Indeed, the unprecedented developments that have been experienced throughout the world can be explained to one of the major reasons as to why the identity politics have surfaced and become popular in the world since through the identity politics, people feel that they can be able to address their needs and wants more effectively as people in a certain grouping have similar needs and wants (Alcoff et al. 2008).

On the other hand, it can be noted that the end of socialism and the emergence of capitalism has also contributed to the popularity of identity politics since people tend to believe that the only way that they can be able to address the social injustices that they experience in certain situations can only be through identity politics (Dryzek, 1996). Indeed, it can be explained that the politics pertaining to citizenship has left people with no option apart from placing the general identity as citizens ahead of the interests that emerge in the daily lives. In that view, it can be highlighted that there is some sort of disagreement between the citizenship and the identities that emerge from different elements of peoples’ lives (Phelan, 1991). On another view, citizenship can be explained to have been dedicated the responsibility of surpassing the multifaceted variances that are encountered in the everyday world. On the other hand, the concept of citizenship that limits such identities and, in turn, the social connections via what they are mandated, reproduced, and possibly changed portends to act as a legitimating source for the upkeep of the dominations against the various identities.

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The notion that citizenship is to a certain extent opposed to identity needs to be explored. Citizenship can be explained to imply a particular political identity that specifies the terms of membership as well as the reasons that could lead to a person been expelled from a certain political society. In a place where the word citizen is commonly used to imply a person holds a birth certificate or a passport of a given country, it might be hard for a person to really get to understand the benefits that are linked with a person been a citizen of a certain country since that has for many years been taken for granted (Schtamm, Skinner, and Rottenburg, 2012).  

The discourses of citizenship has for a long time ranked citizen as the main political identity that has a likelihood of shifting, blocking or ousting other identities, expelling them to past territories. That is nevertheless a novel aspect of the discourses and practices of citizenship. Citizenship has offered the uniqueness which symbolizes the common membership within a given political community even though it has for many years undertaken that duty in part by concealing the importunity of various social connections and thereby destabilization appreciation of the other identities emerging thereafter. Moreover, citizenship has done that in corporation to various assumptions regarding what comprises a capable political actor. On the other hand, practically, the discourses of citizenship and those of the national identity can be discussed to have joined in different manners with the distance among the two been taken by different practices of citizenship that are as many as the nation-states that provide them with the institutional embodiment. The ethno-cultural model can be discussed as been the most clear in its standardizing requirements, with suitability for affiliation on stressed from the outset, keeping citizenship status to those who are considered to have attained stern ethno-cultural standards. Nevertheless, in view of the civic-national approach that is considered to be open, it is mainly shot through with various assumptions pertaining to the national culture and language (Schtamm, Skinner, and Rottenburg, 2012).  

From such discussions, it can be explained that there is no doubt that identity politics have been able to resonate with a lot of people more than is the case with citizenship. Indeed, it is crucial to point out that it is highly likely that there will be no return to the notion that citizenship identity could be considered ahead of all other identities even though neither can the acknowledgment of identities over rights by itself provide basis for establishing a novel and pulsating social harmony. The more hopeful alternatives of identity politics depends of the establishment of coalitions and alliances among various identities to offer the grounds for joint action and the possibility for making lasting unity. That hopefulness inclines to abandon the unpredictability common in such bands of alliances. With no founded basis, main alliances are many times prone to the risk of natural tensions, rivalry, and disagreements among opposing groups.

Since the establishment of the civil rights that was followed by establishments of various groups that advocated for different rights, many people have pledged their alliance to various organizations as they are convinced that the organisations have a better chance of pursuing certain objectives that are of great significance to them. The question was whether the politics of identity do pose any challenge to the citizenship discourse and the answer for that can be an emphatic yes since when one considers the various events that are taking place in different places in the world, it is apparent that most people are now more keen on the identity politics rather that the citizenship (Walby, 1994).

A good example to explain that point is the example entailing the topic of gays and lesbianism. Indeed, even though many people were some years ago opposed to the thought that a man could get married to a fellow man or that a woman could get married to a fellow woman, those who were gays joined together and strongly fought against the opposition that they were facing and within a matter of time, they managed to get a lot of people on their side to the extent that they were able to campaign for the changes of the existing rules in various countries so that same sex marriage was allowed in different countries. That achievement by the gays and lesbianism did not come east as they realized that they had to first have their own identity in order to ensure that they became a force that could be reckoned with. In that view, it can be stated that identity politics are now becoming more popular even to the extent that they might soon replace the citizenship as people are now in favor of been known for certain standings or opinions that they have reading certain subjects rather than been known from where they come from or their citizenship.

Another example of how identity politics have been used in order to pursue a cause that those who identify with the identity politics entails the controversial topic of feminism that has elicited mixed reactions from different people since there are those who are of the view that men have to always be superior to men while on the other hand, there are others who are of the view that men and women should all be treated and considered as equals. Thus, those who are the proponents of feminism have been able to come together and form formidable organizations that have advocated for the rights of women. As a result, the women have ended up been more appreciated in the society and are now perceived as been able to also do some of the duties that are assigned to men.

 The main challenge with identity politics is that it is only one-sided and it is at the same time not dialectical. The identity politics considers identities to be fixed entities, and its techniques only takes effect to specifically serve the interests of those who can identify with certain identities. On the other hand, the identity politics intends to free identity, organizations or those who are affiliated with the organizations instead of freeing them from the specific identity itself. In that view, identity politics can be discussed to most of the times be ineffective due to the fact that it begins with different subaltern segments and attempts their freedom even though since it ends with, it is not able to achieve freedom for them. Identity politics creates identities and their equality with other advantaged segments the grounds of political activity, instead of addressing the need of the specific identity. The elimination of the biasedness of identity symbolizes the real human liberation. However, due to its failure in that, identity politics opts for simple liberation that is offered by those who vehemently defend the notion of identity.   To an extent, the identity politics can also be viewed as been individualistic since rather than addressing the issues pertaining to the entire community at large, the identity politics aims at addressing issues pertaining to a small section of the society.

 As far as the future of identity politics is concerned, it can be explained that as long as social challenges are in place, identity politics will always exist and thrive to the extent that they could even replace citizenship (Assister, 1999). The question thus is on what needs to be done in order to ensure that the identity politics do not become a major challenge to the citizenship discourse. One of the strategies that should be adopted by the governments of various countries would involve enacting various policies that are aimed at addressing the numerous social challenges that are faced (D’Cruz, 2009). Indeed, it can be explained that if the government was to effectively convince people that it is doing whatever is required in order to address the inequalities experienced in the society as well as the issues that emerge within the society, then there is a high chance that the government would be able to minimize the type of impacts that the identity politics have. However, the fact that the governments has limited resources and it is not possible for the government to always effectively address to issues that emerge, politics of identity will always be a challenge to the citizen discourse.  


In conclusions, it can be explained that identity politics will always pose a challenge to the citizenship discourse since while citizenship mainly entails a common perspective, identity politics entails a perspective that can be considered as been individualistic mainly due to the fact that it only aims to serve the interests of a selected few in the society. In that view, it is thus crucial that in order for respective governments to ensure that identity politics do not become a major challenge to the citizenship discourse, the issues that are raised by identity politics should be addressed. 


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