Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Sociology

Advisor

Kathleen Jenkins

Committee Member

Amy Quark

Committee Member

Ronald Rapoport

Abstract

This study uses ethnographic methods to explore the relationship between collective identity, personal identity and activism in local Democratic clubs and county groups in Eastern Virginia. Drawing from interviews with activist group leaders and group members, participant observation at party events, and document analysis of party documents, I introduce the concepts of maximal reality and submaximal reality to help understand how individual and group practices reinforce collective identities that promote group activism. I argue that the emphasis of maximal realities through practices of silence and group activist rituals creates a dialectic of political participation that ensures Democratic identity is reinforced and group activism continues.

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