Identity in Democracy, Pages 13-15; Pages 117-121; Pages 124-125; Pages 144-149

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Princeton University Press, Sep 5, 2004 - Philosophy - 246 pages

Written by one of America's leading political thinkers, this is a book about the good, the bad, and the ugly of identity politics.Amy Gutmann rises above the raging polemics that often characterize discussions of identity groups and offers a fair-minded assessment of the role they play in democracies. She addresses fundamental questions of timeless urgency while keeping in focus their relevance to contemporary debates: Do some identity groups undermine the greater democratic good and thus their own legitimacy in a democratic society? Even if so, how is a democracy to fairly distinguish between groups such as the KKK on the one hand and the NAACP on the other? Should democracies exempt members of some minorities from certain legitimate or widely accepted rules, such as Canada's allowing Sikh members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to wear turbans instead of Stetsons? Do voluntary groups like the Boy Scouts have a right to discriminate on grounds of sexual preference, gender, or race?

Identity-group politics, Gutmann shows, is not aberrant but inescapable in democracies because identity groups represent who people are, not only what they want--and who people are shapes what they demand from democratic politics. Rather than trying to abolish identity politics, Gutmann calls upon us to distinguish between those demands of identity groups that aid and those that impede justice. Her book does justice to identity groups, while recognizing that they cannot be counted upon to do likewise to others.

Clear, engaging, and forcefully argued, Amy Gutmann's Identity in Democracy provides the fractious world of multicultural and identity-group scholarship with a unifying work that will sustain it for years to come.


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Identity in democracy

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Are identity politics a needed defense against the tyranny of the majority, or a divisive impediment to the realization of individual rights and the common good? A little of both, and much more ... Read full review


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Identification by Ascription
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Integrating Identity in Democracy

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Page 4 - Far from being more attentive, interested, and informed, Independents tend as a group to be somewhat less involved in politics. They have somewhat poorer knowledge of the issues, their image of the candidates is fainter, their interest in the campaign is less, their concern over the outcome is relatively slight, and their choice between competing candidates, although it is indeed made later in the campaign, seems much less to spring from discoverable evaluations of the elements of national politics.
Page 31 - Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types — religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute.

About the author (2004)

Amy Gutmann Amy Gutmann is President-elect of the University of Pennsylvania. Her many books include Democratic Education(Princeton); Why Deliberative Democracy? (forthcoming, Princeton) and Democracy and Disagreement (Harvard), both with Dennis Thompson; and Color Conscious (Princeton, with K. Anthony Appiah).

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