How Politics Became Our Identity
University of Chicago Press 2018
Recent debates about partisan polarization have focused primarily on ideology and policy views. In Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity (University of Chicago Press, 2018), social identity moves to the center of how to think about the differences that divide the country. Instead of alignment of just party and ideology, recent social sorting has resulted in an array of social identities grouping together within each party. The consequence of this sorting is strong in-group bias and extreme emotional response to electoral outcomes.
Uncivil Agreement is written by Lilliana Mason. Mason is assistant professor of political science at the University of Maryland, College Park. Mason combines analysis of historic survey data on elections and novel social experiments. What she discovers is a new dimension of the polarization debate, and one that has few obvious solutions. As she notes throughout the book, this is worrisome for the democracy and the responsiveness of parties to the electorate.