Faculty of Arts


Identity Politics


Politics in pluralist democracies has increasingly become dominated by claims for recognition made by minority groups, divided along the axes of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Identity politics challenges conventional ways of understanding both pluralism and power in politics. It assumes the political status of identity group, rather than interest group membership, and it locates recognition – rather than redistribution – claims at the centre of progressive politics. Identity has largely supplanted class as the locus for social meaning and the driving force behind individual action.

This course examines the theory and politics of identity, recognition and difference. We begin by examining the concepts of identity, difference, self and other from a philosophical perspective. We then focus on the way these concepts have been deployed in political practice by a range of movements, and upon some of the key critiques of identity politics, from both the right and the left. 

NB: enrolment is limited to 25 students, with selection criteria as follows: 1) admission to a postgraduate programme in Political Studies or Development Studies; 2) results in previous tertiary study in relevant subjects.

Availability 2012

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Associate Professor Katherine Smits


POLITICS 724: 15.0 points

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