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Talking about PoliticsInformal Groups and Social Identity in American Life$
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Katherine Cramer Walsh

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226872186

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226872216.001.0001

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Talking Politics in a Context of Understanding

Talking Politics in a Context of Understanding

(p.82) Chapter 5 Talking Politics in a Context of Understanding
Talking about Politics
University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes how the social identities communicated in group contexts are used by the members of the group to talk about politics. Data from the participant observations show how groups use these identities as tools of understanding and how these processes vary across group conditions. In a group in which the participants regularly communicate about shared social identities, the perspectives informed by these identities operate to suggest and regulate the appropriate categories for interpreting public affairs. In contexts in which there is no strong sense of shared identity, individuals rely on their own social identities to distinguish their views from those of others. With the use of national sample survey data and previous studies using participant observation, the chapter generalizes the claim that participating in associations characterized by perceptions of likeness enables people to think about politics using the lens of social identity.

Keywords:   social identity, politics, participant observations, group conditions, shared identities, national sample survey

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