Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the self-interest and perspectives of Voluntary Affinity Groups and the ways in which people’s politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely correlated social organizations based on commonality (In Groups).
Examples include social organizations based on race, class, religion, gender, ethnicity, ideology, nation, sexual orientation, culture, information preference, history, musical or literary preference, medical conditions, professions or hobbies.
Not all members of any given group are necessarily involved in identity politics.
The term identity politics and movements linked to it came into being during the latter part of the 20th century. It can most notably be found in class movements, feminist movements, gay and lesbian movements, disability movements, ethnic movements and post colonial movements.
One aim of identity politics is to empower those who are oppressed to articulate their oppression in terms of their own experience.
This distinguishes identity politics from the liberal conception of politics as driven by individual self-interest.
Critics of identity politics claim that it tends toward essentialism, arguing that some of its proponents hold that gender, race, or other group characteristics are fixed or biologically determined traits (or, in the case of gay liberation, based on the Freudian idea that all are driven by our sexuality), rather than social constructions.
It is important to note that these are Voluntary associations, and that they are based entirely on Affinity — that is, they only arise in respect to commonality, not difference.