The Killing Fields of Identity Politics

Clarke, Caroline and Knights, David (2020). The Killing Fields of Identity Politics. In: Brown, A.D. ed. Oxford Handbook on Identities in Organisations. Oxford Handbook. Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp. 801–816.

Abstract

The obsession with securing recognition through identity pervades organisational, institutional, political and everyday life. As academics, our culpability in promulgating this fascination, or idée fixee is indisputable, for as a collective body we are responsible for a proliferation of articles, books and conference streams on identity. However, apart from a few exceptions, the majority of texts fail to interrogate the concept to uncover its dangers, but instead reproduce the everyday common-sense fascination, indeed addictive, preoccupation with seeking order, stability and security through identity. In this chapter, we expose this neglect within the organization studies literature and argue that it contributes to, rather than challenges, some of the major social ills surrounding identity – discrimination and prejudice, aggressive masculine competition, conquest and control and the growing identity politics of nationalist, if not xenophobic and racist, constructions of boundaries and borders.

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