George Hawley, who has written extensively on conservatism and right-wing ideologies in the U.S., presents a telling portrait of conservatism’s relationship with identity politics.
The American conservative movement has consistently declared its opposition to all forms of identity politics, arguing that such a form of politics is at odds with individualism. In this persuasive study, George Hawley examines the nature of identity politics in the United States: how conservatives view and understand it, how they embrace their own versions of identity, and how liberal and conservative intellectuals and politicians navigate this equally dangerous and potentially explosive landscape.
Hawley begins his analysis with a synopsis of the variety both of conservative critiques of identity politics and of conservative explanations for how it has come to define America’s current political terrain. This historical account of differing conservative approaches to identitarian concerns from the post-war era until today—including race, gender, and immigration—foregrounds conservatism’s lack of consistency in its critiques and ultimately its failure to provide convincing arguments against identity politics. Hawley explores the political right’s own employment of identity politics, particularly in relation to partisan politics, and highlights how party identification in the United States has become a leading source of identity on both sides of the political spectrum. Hawley also discusses this generation’s iteration of American white nationalism, the Alt-Right, from whose rise and fall conservatism may develop a more honest, realistic, and indeed relevant approach to identity politics. Conservatism in a Divided America examines sensitive subjects from a dispassionate, fair-minded approach that will appeal to readers across the ideological divide. The book will interest scholars in and enthusiasts of political theory and psychology, American history, and U.S. electoral politics.
1. Conservatism and other Concepts
2. Conservative Arguments against Identity Politics
3. Conservative Explanations for Identity Politics
4. Conservatism and the Civil Rights Movement
5. Conservatism and Feminism
6. Conservatism and Immigration and National Identity
7. Partisan Politics as Identity Politics by another Name
8. Lessons from the Alt-Right’s Rise and Fall
Conclusion: Conservatism beyond 2020
George Hawley is associate professor of political science at the University of Alabama. He is the author of a number of books, including Making Sense of the Alt-Right, Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism, and White Voters in Twenty-First Century America.
“Hawley argues that many conservatives are ill-equipped to deal with identity issues largely because of their adherence to an outdated and inadequate ‘canon’ of conservative movement literature that was largely produced in the 1950s and 1960s.” —D. J. Mulloy, author of The World of the John Birch Society
"In this balanced, profound, and honest book, George Hawley delves into the history of American conservatism and traces its development from an intellectual enterprise to a real-world movement. If, as argued by Hawley, the call of identity in American politics is unlikely to fade, Conservatism in a Divided America provides a gentle warning to not dismiss its implications for the future of American politics—and conservatism itself—in the twenty-first century." —José Pedro Zúquete, author of The Identitarians
"George Hawley has already distinguished himself as one of the leading scholars of polarization, ideology, and American conservatism. But in Conservatism in a Divided America, Hawley has exceeded his own standard of excellence. In the era of identity politics and wokeness, this book is by far his most insightful—and provocative." —Jesse Merriam, Patrick Henry College
"Though some readers may disagree with Hawley’s claim that it’s possible to 'draw a line between white nationalism and American conservatism, even while acknowledging the degree to which conservatives have benefited from, and sometimes contributed to, white racial anxieties,' he builds a scrupulous case. This has the power to change minds." —Publishers Weekly
"This is one of the most comprehensive, data-driven looks at modern conservatism written in the past decades, an amazing addition to a stellar career." —Maiseh Review
Hawley’s work has been foundational to our understanding of the alt-right, and he provides a quick post-mortem to the movement and its correlation to the larger right-wing trends (a section that itself could have benefitted from more space). Overall, this is one of the most comprehensive, data driven looks at modern conservatism written in the past decades, an amazing addition to a stellar career. -Maiseh Review
"I applaud this kind of candor, and the nuanced, empirically-informed analytical frame that Hawley brings to bear on his subject matter. His engaging intellectual and social scientific tour de force helps the reader grasp how the new generation of conservatives and classical liberals is building on the foundations laid by previous generations." —Law & Liberty
"Hawley is a careful, cautious internal critic of U.S. conservatism. He argues that partisan 'identity politics' is pervasive among present-day conservatives, despite their insistence that liberals are the ones to politicize race, gender, and other aspects of identity." —Library Journal
"In a work that will interest students of both political theory and public opinion, Hawley examines the evolving meanings of conservatism and, specifically, its complicated history with the idea of 'identity politics.' ...Recommended." —Choice