Cultivating political and public identity

Why plumage matters

By Rodney Barker

Cultivating political and public identity


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1458-7
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2017
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Social & cultural history, History Of Fashion, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Social & cultural anthropology, Political science & theory, Cultural studies: fashion & society, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom, Political Theory


Throughout the twentieth century, everyone from Marxists to economic individualists assumed that social and political activity was driven by the rational pursuit of material gain. Today, the fundamental importance of the cultivation and preservation of identity is finally re-emerging. This book explores the rich fabric of speech, dress, diet and the built environment from which human identity is made. Synthesising methods and ideas from numerous disciplines - including history, political science, anthropology, law and sociology - it presents a picture of human life as more than just a collection of material interests. Its ultimate aim is to show that no human activity is trivial or meaningless, that everything counts and 'plumage' matters.

An open access version of this book, funded by the London School of Economics and Political Science, is available under a CC-BY licence at and


'This book is original, unexpected, witty, erudite, yet uncannily topical. Reinvigorated by social media, issues of identity are among the most pressing of contemporary problems. Barker's book - covering clothes and theology, democratic theory and leaders, power and associations - is a vivid contribution to understanding what makes us what we are now.'
Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History, University of Westminster

'Rodney Barker shows that a theoretical investigation of identity need not be opaque and complicated. His analysis goes beyond economics and politics to include religion, language, music, satire, architecture, transportation and food, making a significant contribution to understanding "why plumage matters". A fascinating and erudite study.'
Jonathan Mercer, Professor of Political Science, University of Washington


1 Introduction
2 Plumage
3 Cultivating identity
4 Top people are different: association and distinction in politics and religion
5 Caps of liberty: the oddity of democracy
6 Reformations, revolutions, continuity, and counter-reformations
7 The plumage of Britannia
8 Conclusion


Rodney Barker is Emeritus Professor of Government at LSE and Emeritus Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College

Cultivating political and public identity

By Rodney Barker

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

Paperback £19.99 / $29.95

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