Cultivating political and public identity

Why plumage matters

By Rodney Barker

Cultivating political and public identity


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1459-4
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: July 2017
  • BIC Category: Political Theory, Cultural studies: fashion & society, Social & cultural anthropology, Political science & theory, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom, Humanities / Social & cultural history, History Of Fashion, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory


Public and political life can no longer be seen as simply the pursuit of material gain or even as the struggle for enough food and shelter by which to live. The interests people pursue are shaped by the identities which they both inherit and cultivate. In generating identities, everything is important, from clothing to cuisine, from architecture to language, and to understand why and how people associate in groups and communities, and why they compete and conflict with each other, every aspect of identity has to be taken seriously. Whatever secrets may remain in people's minds or souls, who they are socially is what they say, what they eat, and how they live.

This book is ideal reading for students, lecturers, and the general reader interested in the importance of identity in public life, and in the inherent political momentum in identity cultivation to both equality and inequality simultaneously.

This title will be available as an open access ebook under a CC-BY licence.


'This book is original, unexpected, witty, erudite, yet uncannily topical. Reinvigorated by social media, issues of identity are among the most pressing of contemporary problems. Barker's book - covering clothes and theology, democratic theory and leaders, power and associations - is a vivid contribution to understanding what makes us what we are now.'
Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, University of Westminster

'Rodney Barker shows that a theoretical investigation of identity need not be opaque and complicated. His analysis goes beyond economics and politics to include religion, language, music, satire, architecture, transportation and food, making a significant contribution to understanding "why plumage matters". A fascinating and erudite study.'
Jonathan Mercer, Professor of Political Science, University of Washington


Rodney Barker is Emeritus Professor of Government at LSE and Emeritus Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College


1 Introduction
2 Plumage
3 Cultivating identity
4 Top people are different: association and distinction in politics and religion
5 Caps of liberty: the oddity of democracy
6 Reformations, revolutions, continuity, and counter-reformations
7 The plumage of Britannia
8 Conclusion

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