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Psychological Groups and Political Psychology: A Response to Huddy’s “Critical Examination of Social Identity Theory”

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In a recent article in this journal, Leonie Huddy (2001) asks whether the social identity approach developed by Tajfel, Turner, and their collaborators can “advance the study of identity within political science” (p. 128). She concludes that “various shortcomings and omissions in its research program” (p. 128) hinder the application of the approach to political phenomena. This paper presents a response to Huddy’s evaluation of the social identity approach. Several aspects of her account of social identity work are challenged, especially her suggestion that it ignores subjective aspects of group membership. The interpretation of the minimal group paradigm is discussed in detail, as are issues of identity choice, salience, and variations in identity strength. The treatment of groups as process in social identity theory and self–categorization theory is given particular emphasis.
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Keywords: identity salience; identity strength; political groups; political psychology; self–categorization; social identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Australian National University

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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