Ideologies of identity

Week 6

Learning Objectives

  • Understand feminism
  • Understand environmentalism
  • Differentiate modernism from post-modernism

Class coordinators

Team 1


Feminism, environmentalism, and modernism might be described as ideologies of identity because they appeal to images of the self as they have emerged since the end of the Cold War, and in some ways they are fragmented and disjointed collections of values and beliefs more than coherent and structured belief systems as were the older ideologies we have studied. Part of the cause may lie in new media and technologies, which permit “specialty channels” of communication allowing smaller communities to congregate around particular ideas. Some scholars have heralded the end of the mass ideologies of the earlier 20th Century (Fukuyama, 2006), but this has been heard before, (Bell, 1962) and rejected (Jost, 2006).


Feminism, environmentalism, modernism and post-modernism are not as easy to characterize as liberalism, conservatism, fascism and communism. They do not fit easily on the axes of ideas that we have previously discussed.  Certainly they may be described as broadly coherent systems of ideas that describe, explain, and prescribe action – sometimes. Feminism is most clearly an ideology in the traditional sense, and does appear in the Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies. Environmentalism is indexed, and makes a brief appearance in connection with several traditional ideologies, including conservatism and “green ideology”. Modernism is not indexed, although modernity and post modernism get brief mentions – modernity in the context of the origin of contemporary ideologies, and postmodernism in the context of the end of ideologies.


Ideologies had their origin in the modernity of post-enlightenment rejection of a divinely ordered universe. By the late twentieth century, some people were arguing that the modern era was passing into a new period in which the meta-narratives (big, overarching stories) that characterized classic ideologies were not longer credible. While some secular ideologies fragmented into patterns of belief based on particular identities, there was also a resurgence of belief in religions narratives and a variety of fundamentalism – Christian, Islamic, Hindu, even Buddhist.

Learning objectives

  1. Understand feminism
  2. Understand environmentalism
  3. Differentiate modernism from post-modernism

Required readings

Tremblay, ch.7

Scott, ch.5 – citing sources, and how we know what isn’t so.

Optional readings

  • Jost, J. T. (2006). The end of the end of ideology. American Psychologist61(7), 651.
  • Bell, D. (Ed.). (1962). The end of ideology: on the exhaustion of political ideas in the fifties: with” The resumption of history in the new century”. Harvard University Press.
  • Fukuyama, F. (2006). The end of history and the last man. Simon and Schuster.
  • Some notes on women in Canadian politics
  • Krolokke, C., & Sorensen, A. S. (2005). Three waves of feminism: From suffragettes to grrls. Gender communication theories & analyses: From silence to performance, 1-24.
  • Paehlke, R. C. (1989). Environmentalism and the future of progressive politics. New Haven.
  • Kahn, M. E. (2007). Do greens drive Hummers or hybrids? Environmental ideology as a determinant of consumer choiceJournal of Environmental Economics and Management54(2), 129-145.
  • Jameson, F. (1984). The politics of theory: ideological positions in the postmodernism debate. New German Critique, 53-65.


  • Your assignment 1 must be submitted on Turnitin by 2350 Wednesday of this week.
  • Consolidate our your notes from weeks 2-6 in the form of a one-page summary of ideologies.  Include enough detail about each ideology in the summary to get five points on a question worded, “define and explain the significance of…”  You can hand this in for participation points.  It’s a good tool to prepare for the final exam.

Self-assessment questions

  1. Define feminism, gender, and patriarchy.  Are liberal, marxist, and radical feminism more alike or different from each other? Are any of the strands of feminism more relevant to today’s politics than others?  (From Tremblay, Ch. 7)
  2. Define environmentalism, anthropocentrism, and ecocentrism.  Is sustainable development compatible with capitalism? What is the difference between “shallow” and “deep” environmentalism?  Is shallow environmentalism just another form of capitalist-driven consumerism?  (From Tremblay, Ch. 7)
  3. “While ideologies that fall on left-right and individual-collective axes are constructs of the modern industrial age and capitalist societies, feminism and environmentalism might be labelled post-modern.”  Is this true?  What makes it true or false, and have ideologies evolved from traditional to modern to post-modern, or is this only relevant to academics?
  4. What is the essential information to include about a source, regardless of the format that you choose (or are told) to work with? (From Scott, Ch. 5)
  5. (From How we know what isn’t so…) What are the main sources of error in our thinking about causality, and what can we do to reduce these?


Our seminar this week will concentrate on self-assessment question 3, which will give us an opportunity to practice answering a possible essay question for the final exam.


Weekly activities can be adjusted by class coordinators in consultation with the professor

Week 5 checklist of material

[1] Introduction from class coordinator – time allocation

[2] Current events of political significance (domestic, international) [60s]

[3] Review/amend focus of learning objectives  [5D]

[4] Key terms [5D, GLI]

[5] Mapping the Political Landscape [5D, GLI]

[6] External resources [class coordinator]

[7] Exam questions [5D, GLI]

[8] Looking ahead: next week’s class coordinator introduces (last 15 minutes)

Next up

David Last, updated September 2016, lastdav@gmail.com