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Stratification economics and identity economics


  • John B. Davis


Stratification economics represents an important new approach devoted to explaining economic inequality in terms of how social groups are separated or stratified according to relative group status. This paper combines stratification economics with identity economics to address complications that the phenomenon of intersectionality—people having multiple social group identities—creates for stratification economics. It distinguishes two types of social identities recognised by social psychologists, categorical and relational social identities, and uses this distinction to explain how individuals’ personal identities, understood as ordered sets of social identities, can be seen to be both socially and self-constructed. Individuals order and rank their categorical social identities according to weights they assign to them in interactive social settings in which their role-based relational social identities combine different categorical social identities. Research in social psychology in the stigma identity-threat literature is then reviewed to distinguish two opposed ways in which individuals respond to others’ stigmatisation of their social groups in interactive settings. The paper argues that the ways in which individuals respond to stigma reflect social group power relationships and the scarcity logic of individualist social ontologies and tend to reinforce social stratification.

Suggested Citation

  • John B. Davis, 2015. "Stratification economics and identity economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(5), pages 1215-1229.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:39:y:2015:i:5:p:1215-1229.

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