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Why plumage matters

This book presents the rich fabric of language, clothing, food, and architecture which forms the diverse religious, political, cultural and ethnic identities of humanity. The colour of a scarf, the accent of a conversation, can unite people or divide them, and the smallest detail can play its part in signalling who are allies and who are enemies, as much for elites as for citizens in a democracy. Human identity is neither rigidly determined nor unpredictable and spontaneous, but between those two extremes is the forum on which the public life of humanity is generated. After a century in which an assumption was held across the ideological spectrum from left to right and from Marxists to economic individualists that the rational pursuit of material gain underlay social and political activity, the fundamental importance of the cultivation and preservation of identity is re-emerging across the whole spectrum of politics in which Britain is one example only. Yet while identity is the dimension in which public life is conducted, it is inherently paradoxical: on the one hand people cultivate their identity by association with a group, or religion, or nation, whilst on the other hand they distinguish themselves from their associates within those groups by presenting an intensified or purer form of the qualities which otherwise unite them. So identity simultaneously generates equality and inequality, between identification by association, and identity by exclusion and differentiation; it is both the engine of public life, and the cause of its confusion and conflict.

This Open Access edition was funded by London School of Economics and Political Science.

How and why governments pass laws that threaten their power

Why do governments pass freedom of information laws? The symbolic power and force surrounding FOI makes it appealing as an electoral promise but hard to disengage from once in power. However, behind closed doors compromises and manoeuvres ensure that bold policies are seriously weakened before they reach the statute book.

The politics of freedom of information examines how Tony Blair's government proposed a radical FOI law only to back down in fear of what it would do. But FOI survived, in part due to the government's reluctance to be seen to reject a law that spoke of 'freedom', 'information' and 'rights'. After comparing the British experience with the difficult development of FOI in Australia, India and the United States – and the rather different cases of Ireland and New Zealand – the book concludes by looking at how the disruptive, dynamic and democratic effects of FOI laws continue to cause controversy once in operation.

10 FOI and the remaking of politics FOI regimes exist in a constant state of change and flux with conflicting pressures to expand and be dismantled. The dynamics and contradictions that form FOI laws are carried over into their implementation. The mobilisation and counter-mobilisation continue as resources, interpretation and support are contested over the fundamental questions of ‘what’, ‘to whom’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ (Barberis 2010, 122). However, reform attempts are uncertain and frequently short-lived. Remaking politics with FOI Patashnik and Zelizer (2013

in The politics of freedom of information
Separate but equal?

Separate but equal? Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland focuses on the historical and current place of religion in the Irish education system from the perspective of children’s rights and citizenship. It offers a critical analysis of the political, cultural and social forces that have perpetuated the patronage system, looks at the ways in which the denominational model has been adapted to increased religious and cultural diversity in Irish society and shows that recent changes have failed to address persistent discrimination and the absence of respect for freedom of conscience. It relates current debates on the denominational system and the role of the State in education to Irish political thought and conceptions of national identity in Ireland, showing the ways in which such debates reflect a tension between nationalist-communitarian and republican political outlooks. There have been efforts towards accommodation and against instances of discrimination within the system, but Irish educational structures still privilege communal and private interests and hierarchies over equal rights, either in the name of a de facto ‘majority’ right to religious domination or by virtue of a deeply flawed and limited view of ‘parental choice’.

8 Politics and citizenship The key challenge facing both Government and Irish society in the period ahead is the need to integrate people of a different culture, ethnicity, language and religion so that they become part of our nation, part of the Irish family in the 21st century. (Fianna Fáil, 2009) This chapter examines immigrant political participation and the role of citizenship in the political integration of immigrants. Firstly, it considers bottom-up efforts of immigrants to participate in electoral politics since 2004, when two former asylum seekers

in Immigration and social cohesion in the Republic of Ireland
Open Access (free)
The oddity of democracy

aspiring politicians would have questioned the desirability of democracy, however much they might have sought to evade, undermine, or destroy it in practice, this formal or merely compliant accord obscured rather than addressed the problems of democratic government and politics. For there to be government, by the people or by anyone else, there has to be someone to be governed. Even ‘self-government’ by an individual depends on there being a divided self, the rebellious id and the controlling super-ego. Though democracy is government by the people it is also government

in Cultivating political and public identity
Open Access (free)

relationship is likely to be qualified by others, so that its contribution will be just that, a contribution, not a determinant. This makes a universal science of human conduct unlikely or unreliable, and predictions dangerous. It is better to expect unexpected and creative identities. This limits the usefulness of both Marxism and utilitarian rational-choice accounts. The jibe has been made that social history was no more than the history of the crinoline. But that underrates, entirely misses, the character of identity both individual and social or political. People will

in Cultivating political and public identity
A case study of South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup

70 Concepts and history 4 Mega sports events as political tools: a case study of South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup Suzanne Dowse Although predominantly justified in economic terms,1 mega sport events (MSEs) are widely perceived as political opportunities in relation to urban regeneration,2 public diplomacy and soft power accrual.3 However, while these ambitions are well recognised, the frequent recurrence of a disconnect or ‘disjoint’ between projected costs and benefits has resulted in a growing number of cities, including Oslo

in Sport and diplomacy
Defeats, victories and new strategies

6 ‘Trade union questions were now political questions’ Defeats, victories and new strategies1 This chapter considers the period between May 1913 and August 1914, covering the second (May to August 1913), third (October to December 1913) and fourth (April to August 1914) distinct phases of DFM activity before the outbreak of war. Taken together, these three phases saw at least eleven DFM mass meetings/ conferences at ten different locations. Proportionately, there were fewer of the localised meetings than in the first phase – at least five of the eleven DFM

in The Great Labour Unrest
Hannah Arendt’s Jewish writings

4 Political life in an antisemitic world: Hannah Arendt's Jewish writings All I wanted was to be a man among other men. I wanted to come lithe and young into a world that was ours and to help to build it together. (Franz Fanon, The Fact of Blackness ) 1 We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English or representatives of any country for that matter. We will always remain

in Antisemitism and the left