Theoretical Micro-foundations of Asymmetric Polarization and Rise of Identity Entrepreneurs


In recent decades, a confluence of economic, technological, social, and cultural shocks had complex cumulative and heterogeneous effects on individuals’ income and health-related material outcomes and status and identity-related socio-psychological outcomes. The literature suggests that declines in outcomes for some demographic groups coupled with messaging by politicians led to a shift toward conservative views. “Despite a vast multidisciplinary literature, no coherent conceptual framework of the microlevel dynamics that increase or decrease polarization has been presented” (Jost, Baldassarri & Druckman 2022). This paper proposes such a framework that grounds in individual behavior macro processes identified in the literature (see review and model by Rodrik 2021). We first investigate changes in individual views about external factors (globalization, immigration, political power of minorities, etc.) and entities that may influence these factors (ethnic groups, politicians, countries, etc.). Second, we explore how “identity entrepreneurs” mobilize individuals with certain demographics who experienced losses in outcomes by promoting and priming a common identity of “Us” and a narrative blaming “Them” for losses.


Avner Ben Ner
Professor, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minnesota, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


The Politics of Religion


Polarization, Religion, Identity entrepreneurs, Ethnicity

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