Yascha Mounk

The Identity Trap

The Identity Trap

A Story of Ideas and Power in Our Time


An Economist, Financial Times, and Prospect Book of the Year

For much of their history, societies have violently oppressed ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. It is no surprise then that many who passionately believe in social justice have come to think that members of marginalized groups need to take pride in their identity if they are to resist injustice.

But over the past decades, a healthy appreciation for the culture and heritage of minorities has transformed into an obsession with group identity in all its forms, one that has quickly become influential around the world. A new ideology - which Yascha Mounk terms the 'identity synthesis' - seeks to put each citizen's matrix of identities at the heart of social, cultural and political life. This, he argues, is the Identity Trap.

Mounk traces the intellectual origins, consequences and limitations of these ideas, explaining how they have been able to win tremendous power over the past decade and why their application to areas from education to public policy is proving to be deeply counterproductive. In his passionate plea for universalism and humanism, he argues that the proponents of identitarian ideas will, though they may be full of good intentions, make it harder to achieve progress towards genuine equality.