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Group Identities and Politics in the United States

Group Identities and Politics in the United States

(p.1) One Group Identities and Politics in the United States
From Politics to the Pews
Michele F. Margolis
University of Chicago Press

Instead of asking how individuals’ group membership and identities influence political affiliations and vote choice, Chapter 1 begins by turning this question on its head: Can politics and political identities influence individuals’ social identities? In particular, can partisanship affect religious attachments, which political science has largely assumed to be stable and predictive of political preferences but impervious to politics’ influence? The chapter describes the current state of religious polarization in American politics; compared to Democrats, Republicans are much more religious on every dimension of religiosity, including identifying with a religious faith, church attendance, frequency of prayer, and believing that religion is important. The chapter then goes on to discuss the numerous ways in which our understanding of the political landscape is limited by thinking about group identities as solely affecting, but not also being affected by, politics. The chapter concludes by discussing the book’s primary contributions and summarizing the remaining chapters.

Keywords:   religion and politics, partisanship, social identities, polarization, political parties

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