Group Identities and Politics

As a basic principle of democratic engagement, people often participate in politics through their identities--their race, gender, class, nationality, religion, and sexuality among others. We aim to study how group identities can shape the way that people participate in politics: how they organize advocacy groups, vote on specific issues, and move towards and away from different candidates.

In recent years, the parties have sorted themselves along identity and demographic lines, leading American politics to both reflect and intensify the existing fault lines in our society. Today’s climate sees parties and politicians highlight an us-versus-them mentality, positioning politics as a zero-sum game.

By understanding the positive and negative structural impact these groups can have, we hope to find ways our politics can provide more opportunities for participation in forms that cut across identities and encourage coalition-building alongside them.

We focus on strengthening other axes of debate, considering where the fissures in our current system are, and how to repair them. To address these fissures, we research issues including, but not limited to: diversity and inclusion in the Congressional workforce, how political polarization inflames racial and economic inequality, how a gender lens alters policy outcomes, and the role of new parties and electoral systems in reducing the negative consequences of this polarized climate.