Collective Identity

Polletta and Jasper state that collective identity is used too broadly, or used to bridge gaps in resource mobilization. This has some interesting implications in the political sphere, which reminded me of an a chapter of a text I studied for a class on mass media, entitled What Democracy Requires of the Media, by James Curran ( Ch.7 refers to collective identities, and the role this media term plays in democratic elections).

In sorting people into “bins” as members of the social categories that exist among activists, like “women” or “African-Americans”, there are both positive and negative results that arise in political campaigns. For one, this categorization allows candidates to tailor their platforms and rallies to certain regions, as was the case with Mitt Romney’s 2012 bid for the presidency: “Southern” is a collective identity like those identified in the Polletta and Jasper piece, and while speaking in a way that looks to take advantage of those “identities” could appeal to some social activists and their notion of what collective identity is meant to achieve, it also has the potential to backfire and receive some serious backlash.




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