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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So the beat of identity politics, and progressivism generally, goes on. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "Americans Turned to Trump to Roll Back the Progressive Tide," 19 Nov. 2018 Democrats cannot do this kind of identity politics. The Economist, "What’s left?To win back power, Democrats must do things that make them uncomfortable," 14 July 2018 Mandela rejected identity politics, of which apartheid was an extreme expression. Peter Godwin, WSJ, "Mandela’s Troubled Legacy," 13 July 2018 The state is among India’s most ethnically, linguistically and religiously varied, and practises some of its most toxic identity politics. The Economist, "From dusty villages to Delhi, Indians seek people to persecute," 5 July 2018 This, in turn, suggests that the ostensible champions of free speech are more interested in criticizing campus identity politics than in protecting speech. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "The Invisible Free Speech Crisis," 10 Apr. 2018 Trump himself has become a symbol of white identity politics even in Europe. John Sides, Washington Post, "Donald Trump is a symbol of white identity politics in Europe, too," 21 June 2018 Ince, along with his counterparts in the National Alliance, also speaks about religion, diving into an area that Erdogan one ruled: identity politics. Elmira Bayrasli, The New Republic, "The Coalition to Stop Erdogan," 20 June 2018 The unruliness of the mid-19th-century voting experience was undoubtedly exacerbated by the deeply divided identity politics that prevailed at the time. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Why Are There Laws That Restrict What People Can Wear to the Polls?," 15 June 2018

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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30 Nov 2018

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The first known use of identity politics was in 1979

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