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Identity Politics/Relational Politics

Leslie Wasson


Human society is no stranger to exercises of interpersonal power and identity politics. The annals of political history are replete with descriptions of these exercises. Power is the ability to get what you want with or without the consent or cooperation of others. Effects of deployed power are observable at the structural and institutional levels of society, and in face-to-face interactions. A discussion of identity politics (sometimes also called relational politics) may focus on either the class or group level or the level of personal interactions. The subject of interpersonal politics rests within a set of related concepts, such as the distribution of social power, social location and status, and a stratified system in which these interpersonal resources may be valued and utilized for purposes of individual or group advantage over other individuals or groups. Groups in a stratified system, that is, a social system with a ranked structure of positions, may contend for advantage among themselves. Each group may seek to utilize group-level resources in addition to individual characteristics to secure a better or stronger position vis-à-vis the members of other groups in the social tapestry. This may not be a result of actual conspiracy: often, people acting in their own perceived self-interest serve the mutual desires of others in a similar social position. In the struggle for ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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