International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Presidential Address by Leonie Huddy

(Session Organizer) Philippa Kerr, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: University of KwaZulu-Natal
Research Area: ISPP 34th Annual Scientific Meeting

Political Identity as a Core Component of Democratic Society

Group identities are central to politics as demonstrated by decades of research on the link between socioeconomic, race, ethnicity, religion, gender and political behavior. I discuss recent political psychology research that takes this approach one step further to draw a direct link between democratic politics and explicitly political identities such as partisanship and ideology. Political parties and ideological groups marshal existing social identities into coherent groups that exhibit political loyalty, unity, action, and combativeness.  I examine the implications of an identity-based approach to partisanship and ideology for political involvement, civility, discord, and cooperation, drawing heavily on intergroup relations, and the political psychology of threat and emotion.  I also consider the role of shared national identities as an added element that conditions the effects of sectarian political identities within a democratic polity.  Political identities can devolve into bitter political dispute and conflict yet are a necessary foundation for political engagement and action.