Definition of identity politics

: politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group Identity politics took its modern form during the second half of the last century. It emerged as an emancipatory mode of political action and thinking based on the shared experience of injustice by particular groups—notably blacks, women, gays, Latinos and American Indians.— Orlando Patterson Although the UCLA center's standards promoted rigorous history, they set off a major culture war because of their relentless emphasis on identity politics.— Diane Ravitch Identity politics is contemporary shorthand for a group's assertion that it is a meaningful group; that it differs significantly from other groups; that its members share a history of injustice and grievance; and that its psychological and political mission is to explore, act out, act on and act up its group identity.— Catharine R. Stimpson A number of critics have viewed her work through a lens of identity politics, taking her to be some sort of oracle of Muslim womanhood.— Lauren Collins

Examples of identity politics in a Sentence

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Much speech runs afoul of the Left’s chief obsession, which is international identity politics. Kyle Smith, National Review, "What Would Orwell Think of Us?," 11 June 2019 By whatever name, however, the SAT’s new metric is another step down the path of identity politics, assigning applicants to groups and categories, and another step away from evaluating individuals individually. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: The College Board tries to solve a social problem that it’s unsuited to solve," 9 June 2019 However, the 2008 Democratic primary and the general election that followed marked a new era in identity politics, said Mary-Kate Lizotte, a political scientist at Augusta University in Georgia. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "“Are all the white guys running together in people’s minds?” The unusual role identity is playing in the 2020 Democratic primary," 9 June 2019 With an emphasis on inclusivity, identity politics, and radical self-expression, de Kluyver presents six different editorial shoots, giving thoughtful context for each set of characters. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Gucci’s New Global Makeup Artist Just Released a Mesmerizing Beauty Book," 23 May 2019 Both men are young, attractive, with a strong focus on identity politics, strong millennial appeal and casual past work experience. WSJ, "Beto O’Rourke May Have a Winning Formula After All," 24 Mar. 2019 Fringe campus politics has gone mainstream, and identity politics is a core Democratic tenet. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Club for Growth of Identity Politics," 14 Mar. 2019 Now that formal innovation in theater has itself become old hat, there seems to be a hunger for realism and the possibility of an everyman in the midst of identity politics. Paula Marantz Cohen, WSJ, "Arthur Miller’s ‘Everyman’ Is an Antidote to Identity Politics," 22 Feb. 2019 Unlike many political fights these days, this one is neither symbolic nor wrapped in identity politics. Taylor Dinerman, WSJ, "A Nuclear Battle Is Ahead in Congress," 3 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'identity politics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of identity politics

1979, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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The first known use of identity politics was in 1979

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