Rethinking the Effects of Identity Politics in a Multiethnic Society: A Comparative Case Analysis of Zambia and Kenya
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This paper is an investigation of identity politics and its relevance. It engages the ‘instrumentalist model’ in understanding the causal chains that can either stabilise or destabilise multi-ethnic societies. It employs a comparative case analysis of Zambia and Kenya. A substantial similarity in our cases is that identity politics has a hold in both nations and the extreme difference is ethnic identity cleavages appear divisive among Kenya’s elites, thus spilling into communities, whereas Zambia shows positive ethnic cohesion trends due to responsible elite conduct. The central proposition of this paper is that politics founded on identity fosters societal stability as opposed to instability. Politicised identities appear to promote division in a multi-ethnic society only because of instrumentalist causes. Thus, with the aid of cases, we analytically illustrate how and why ‘identity politics’ is not necessarily bad and we demonstrate its relevance in enhancing governing capacity which then translates into social harmony.
CitationMulubale, S. (2017). Rethinking the Effects of Identity Politics in a Multi-ethnic Society: A Comparative Case Analysis of Zambia and Kenya. Politikon, 44(1), 49-71.
SponsorshipUnited Kingdom Commonwealth Scholarship Commission
Taylor and Francis Routledge