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Collective Identity and the Construction of Political Markets in Africa

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins with an overview of the role of collective identity in political sociology. In particular it describes the evolution of ideas about collective identity in political thought. The chapter then attempts to relate issues bearing on identity challenges in the construction of political institutions to the wider environment of African politics. It examines the factors accounting for a resurgent interest in collective identity such as race, tribe, ethnicity, class, religion and gender. The chapter then examines the peace-inducing effects of collective identity. It argues that collective identity is a tool for political - electoral - behaviour and that the prevalence of war and political decay in Africa is the result of identity contrasts. Finally it is the argument of this chapter that even though collective identity is present in African politics, the problem is the lack of an effective collective identity - one that unites the population.

Keywords: African politics; collective identity; peace-inducing effects; political sociology



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