Group Cohesion without Group Mobilization: The Case of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals
British Journal of Political Science
Egan, Patrick J.
Group identities that are chosen, rather than inherited, are often associated with cohesive political attitudes and behaviours. Conventional wisdom holds that this distinctiveness is generated by mobilization through processes such as intra-group contact and acculturation. This article identifies another mechanism that can explain cohesiveness: selection. The characteristics that predict whether an individual selects a group identity may themselves determine political attitudes, and thus may account substantially for the political cohesion of those who share the identity. This mechanism is illustrated with analyses of the causes and consequences of the acquisition of lesbian, gay or bisexual identity. Seldom shared by parents and offspring, gay identity provides a rare opportunity to cleanly identify the selection process and its implications for political cohesion.