The importance of these traits in the definition of

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Unformatted text preview: lt of competition for power should not be confused with coercion to change identities. While in some cases individuals are coerced into changing their political identities, coercion is in no way necessary for political identity to change. Constructivism does hold that there are certain parts of political identity which cannot and do not change. These are traits such as race and gender which are physical and unchangeable, but do have an impact on the individual’s perception of himself within any given society. The importance of these traits in the definition of one’s political identity changes from society to society. In Brazil for example, race holds much lower salience than it does in the United States. In the United States it is a politically charged issue, but in Brazil, where there is more diversity in terms of skin color, people do not see it as such an important concern. To look at a society through a constructivist point of view is to look at a nation’s social context as a way to explain to what extent the different identities of the people have been politicized. There are positives and negatives to looking at identity through constructivism. It is particularly useful because of the fact that it helps to explain the variation of political identities across nations (something that primordialism cannot do). It cannot, however explain how individuals perceive their own identities and cannot pinpoint the method by which identity becomes politically salient for large groups of people or how it is passed down through the generations. Constructivism’s greatest strength is the fact that it is able to explain how the socio‐political climate in a nation shapes individual actions and beliefs. Personally I lean more towards the belief that the world is constantly changing and there are circumstances that change our identities. To some extent I would agree that we are born with certain parts of our identities set in stone, and some of these traits (such as race) do hold a considerable amount of salience in certain nations and thus have a large impact on political identity. Most other traits however, I believe hold salience based on the experiences of an individual and can be taken in different ways. For example, many people go though experiences that make them appreciate or have more compassion for something and their political identities change according to their experiences. While primordialism is a simple and logical explanation for political identity, it doesn’t take into account what happens in the real world and the fact that people can and do change as they experience life....
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2014 for the course POL 103? taught by Professor Jackieviecelli during the Spring '13 term at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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