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7.7: Student Resources

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    Key Terms/Glossary

    • Behaving - religious commitment, or behaving according to values privileged by religion.
    • Believing - religious belief or believing in certain religious propositions.
    • Belonging - religious affiliation, or belonging to a religious faith, a religious tradition, or a denomination/sect within a particular religion.
    • Bonding - religious ritual, or bonding by means of spiritual practices and rituals. These are the experiences that people go through, either individually, but more likely together as a community.
    • Citizenship - implies a legal status rather than a feeling of belonging. Different from national or political identity.
    • Class Identity - how a person or group of persons think of themselves based on economic and/or social status.
    • Conscription - an enrollment program that requires young men, and in a few cases young women, to compulsory enlist in their militaries through a draft.
    • Constructivist identity - the idea that people have multiple identities and that as people change, so can either the importance of a particular identity, or the adoption of a new identity altogether.
    • Elites - the upper socio-economic class with consequential political power and social capital.
    • Elite theory - the idea that the elite not only have power, but that they intentionally use it for their own benefit.
    • Exclusionary nationalism - a form of nationalism that includes certain people and either implicitly or explicitly excludes others.
    • Four B’s of religious identity - believing, belonging, behaving, and bonding.
    • Hyperpluralist society - a society with many groups, but groups whose priorities are so divergent as to make finding compromise and agreement on shared values with others in society unachievable.
    • Identity politics - refers to the “tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.”
    • Intersectionality - a situation where the interconnectedness of various identities and categories can lead to the marginalization or to the privilege of particular people and/or groups.
    • Irredentism - when one state wants a territory that previously belonged to it to rejoin it.
    • Liberal nationalism - the idea that every group of people with a clear national identity should have their own state.
    • Marxism - an approach to political economy that is based on the idea of class conflict - between the owner and worker classes.
    • Multinational state - a state that contains multiple nations.
    • National identity - how a person or group of persons think of themselves as belonging to and representing the values and traits of a nation.
    • Nationalism - defined as an ideology where devotion and loyalty to one’s state proves more important than other interests.
    • Nation-state - a state where all or most of the people in that state belong to a single nation.
    • Patriotism - described as pride in one’s state.
    • Pluralist society - a society with many identity groups, with different backgrounds, religions and traditions, but where an overarching identity exists that can include everyone living within the country.
    • Primordial identity - the idea that one’s identity is fixed at birth. A religious identity that claims to predate the religion itself.
    • Religious identity - how a person or group of persons think of themselves as belonging to and representing the values of a particular religion and/or religious sect.
    • Religiosity - the strength of a person’s commitment to religion.
    • Separatist movements - defined as attempts by members of a group of people who seek to establish their own government, separate from the country they reside in.
    • Social capital - defined as having connections and access to networks of other elites so as to increase one’s influence beyond just economic resources.
    • Socioeconomic class - defined as the combination of social factors, such as level of education and occupation.
    • Veil of ignorance - a hypothetical system where people are asked to make policy decisions without knowing who would be affected. The argument is that people would create fair policies, without respect to class, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.
    • Working class - defined as those engaged in manual-labor occupations or industrial work. Often, members of the working class are without a four-year college degree.


    Section #7.1: What is Political Identity?

    Political identity consists of the traits and beliefs that make us who we are, from gender to religion to ethnicity to political affiliation. Understanding different political identities is critical to any analysis of political systems. Imagine trying to comprehend politics in the United States without some sense of who identifies as “conservative” and who identifies as “progressive”. Political identity is as complex and as nuanced as it is essential to the study of comparative politics.

    Section #7.2: What is National Identity?

    National identity is how we see ourselves as members of a nation of people. This can range from a relatively narrow ethnic identity to a broader civic identity that encompasses many ethnic and religious groups. It can be inclusive or exclusive and not all people will define it the same way, even within the same country. National identity also informs nationalist separatist movements as well as policies about citizenship.

    Section #7.3: What is Religious Identity?

    Religious identity, rooted in family and community, is how one thinks of themselves as belonging to a religious group. Religious identity is measured using the “four B’s”: Believing, Belonging, Behaving and Bonding. Like national identity, religious identity can be a centralizing force leading to unity or a decentralizing force leading to exclusionary behavior or conflict. There is some debate about whether religious identity can come before the formation of a specific religion. Religious identity is not bound by geography, yet the intensity of religious identity - and its influence on politics - does vary across different countries.

    Section #7.4: What is Class Identity?

    Class identity has two main components: economic and social. Economic class is about a person’s relative income and/or wealth in society. It is easier to measure and define than social class, though it is not always easy to see. Economic class is about power. Social class can be tied to or independent of economic class. Typically, those of high economic class also have high social status. Yet, social class, because it is about how highly a person is respected and how well connected they are in their society. The subjective nature of social class means it varies across cultures and countries.

    Section #7.5: Comparative case study - Israel and Iran: The Intersection of Politics and Identity

    Using the Most Different Systems approach, we can see that the independent variable in Israel and Iran are political outcomes that favor religion (though the dominant religion is different in each case). The dependent variable, then, is the power of one religion on the politics of each country. Some control variables include: type of government, economic policy, secularization, cooperation with the West, and socioeconomic indicators.

    Review Questions

    1. What are the components of political identity?
      1. Ethnicity and religion
      2. Gender and class
      3. Ideology and nationality
      4. All of these
      5. How does understanding political identity relate to the study of comparative politics?
      6. Political identity helps us understand and analyze political movements and systems
      7. Political identity helps us understand why all wealthy people are conservatives
      8. Political identity is a constant, rather than a variable, in studying comparative politics
    2. What are the 4 “B’s of religious identity?
      1. Believing, Belonging, Behaving and Bonding
      2. Believing, Beholding, Behaving, Bonding
      3. Bonding, Behaving, Belonging, Bending
      4. Behaving, Binding, Believing, Beholding
    3. What political outcomes help demonstrate the dominance of Judaism in Israel and Shia Islam in Iran?
      1. Legal codes that favor each group
      2. Judicial system that includes religious courts
      3. Favoritism and preferences for religious students and religious education
      4. The role of religious parties and factions in each country’s political system
      5. All of these answers are correct
    4. What is an example of political identity in Iran?
      1. The importance of the Iranian Revolution
      2. The inclusion of Kurds in Iranian politics
      3. The exclusion of religion as part of Iranian identity

    Answers: 1.d, 2.a, 3.a, 4.e, 5.a

    Critical Thinking Questions

    1. Predict how national identity, including national symbols, might change in Iran if it became more secular.
    2. Choose one of the focus countries from this chapter and explain whether you think religious identity there is seen as primordial or constructivist.
    3. Describe how class traits differ between generations. In other words, think of what the class markers were for your parents’ generation compared to your own.
    4. How does your class identity inform your political views?
    5. Explain how having a nation is necessary, but not sufficient, to have national identity.
    6. Describe the difference between primordialism and constructivism as they relate to religious identity
    7. Which one of the four ‘B’s most applies to you? Do you maybe believe, but not belong? Or do you behave, but not necessarily believe?
    8. Israel and Iran are starkly different countries? Why study two states that are so different?

    Suggestions for Further Study

    Journal Articles