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Keywords:

  • self-categorization;
  • social psychology;
  • identity politics

This paper suggests that self-categories provide the basis for political action, that those who wish to organize political activity do so through the ways in which they construct self-categories, and that political domination may be achieved through reifying social categories and therefore denying alternative ways of social being. Hence, the way in which social psychology approaches the matter of self-categorization provides a touchstone for its politics. To the extent that we too take categories for granted, we are in danger of supporting conservative and undemocratic politics. The only way to eschew tendencies toward reification within social psychology is to add a historical dimension to our own analysis of self-categorical processes.