Belonging and the Politics of Belonging

Part of the Identity Studies in the Social Sciences book series (IDS)


My aim in this chapter is to outline an analytical framework for the study of belonging and the politics of belonging. It is important to differentiate between the two. Belonging is about emotional attachment, about feeling ‘at home’ and, as Michael Ignatieff (2001) points out, about feeling ‘safe’. In the aftermath of 7/7, the 2005 bombings in London, such a definition takes on a new, if problematic, poignancy. Belonging tends to be naturalised, and becomes articulated and politicised only when it is threatened in some way. The politics of belonging comprises specific political projects aimed at constructing belonging in particular ways, to particular collectivities that are, at the same time, themselves being constructed by these projects in very particular ways. An analytical differentiation between belonging and the politics of belonging is, therefore, crucial for any critical political discourse on nationalism, racism or other contemporary politics of belonging (see Yuval-Davis 2011). In this chapter, there is only space to outline some of the central features of such an analytical framework.


Political Community Emotional Attachment Social Location Social Division Identity Narrative 
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© Nira Yuval-Davis 2011

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