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EVALUATION OF IDENTITY POLITICS AMONG UNDERGRADUATES IN GHANA

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EVALUATION OF IDENTITY POLITICS AMONG  UNDERGRADUATES  IN GHANA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

Identity groups hold a precarious position inside a democratic system. Critics highlight the extent to which group identities restrict rather than emancipate individuals. Dinas (2022) explained that when individuals are categorize based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or disability, they are subjected to stereotyping and deprived of the unique qualities and freedom to associate with any group they choose. When individuals personally associate with certain racial, ethnic, or religious groups, they frequently acquire animosity towards other groups and a belief in their own superiority. Groups sometimes engage in fierce competition, prioritizing their group's dominance over fairness and even peace.

According to contemporary identity theory, there is a dynamic relationship between cognitive processes and social or cultural factors (Meyer et al., 2019). The current understanding of 'identity' emphasizes that social categories are formed based on an individual's self-respect. Given the continuous development of identity, it is appropriate to acknowledge that identity creation is inevitable in any social setting. This assumes that there are several ways in which identities may be formed, either through societal expectations, external pressures, or personal development. One of the many social identities that individuals develop as they become part of different groups is a political identity. Political identity according  Maniam & Smith, (2017) is a type of social or group identification. Ideally, it is based on ideology and assumes belonging to political groupings that are considered insiders, rather than political groups such as parties, movements, or nation-states that are considered outsiders. It can also be interpreted as a political strategy in which individuals belonging to a specific gender, religion, race, social background, class, or other distinguishing characteristics, formulate political objectives that stem from theoretical frameworks of interconnected systems of oppression that may impact their lives and originate from their diverse identities (Garza, 2019). Political identity is a significant expression of political socialisation among persons in the educational realm, particularly university students. However, it is also apparent that ideological and political education holds significance in professional training institutions, as seen in several teacher training schools (Cao, 2018).

Clearly, the period of young adulthood plays a crucial role in the development of one's identity. Ryan (2017) opined that at this stage of life, a person is determining the fundamental values, beliefs, and objectives that are crucial for developing their true identity and their duties and obligations in society. Ryan further explained that identity creation is an intricate process that connects several areas to shape an individual's sense of self, encompassing their ethnic, sexual , and political identities. During the process of identity development, there is a significant interaction between the psychological and social aspects of the self, with these components constantly influencing each other. Studies have shown that young people do not need to possess political expertise in order to develop a political identity. Instead, individuals learn to fully accept and adopt a particular political context as a means of constructing their own unique sense of self.            

Notably, adolescents who have developed a strong sense of identity often encounter cognitive dissonance when confronted with new political information. They assess this information in relation to their existing identity, as highlighted by Dinas (2022) and this phenomena is essential in comprehending the maintenance of political identities as young individuals go from their homes to pursue higher education. Young adults, when exposed to new political stimuli, tend to ignore those that do not align with their existing political opinions.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Presently, Ghana is experiencing significant changes in voting patterns and attitudes among the millennial age, surpassing any other generation since the establishment of politics in the country. Millennials have distinct traits compared to preceding generations (Meyer et al., 2019). Compared to earlier generations, they possess a greater amount of formal education, exhibit more ethnic and cultural diversity (Fry et al., 2018), and are distinguished by their confidence, self-expression, liberal tendencies, and willingness to embrace change. Remarkably, the voting patterns, political beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours of the Ghanaian millennial generations exhibit these particular features. College student organisations, which mostly represent the millennial age, are very responsive to social and political developments in Ghana. They possess a keen and instinctive political identification, making them a reliable indicator of the current state of affairs.

 Consequently, the political identification of students in institutions of education in Ghana has become highly significant, particularly when examining the concept of 'political identity' in a thoughtful manner. Wolak, J. (2019) avrred that the political identification of college of education students is crucial for ensuring national stability and social progress, since they are the most sensitive group to national change and social reformation. Rico and Jennings (2016) have found that parental influence and a liberal university atmosphere are significant factors that contribute to the political behaviours, both implicit and explicit, of college students. Students' development of political identity is closely intertwined with both familial political socialisation and exposure to external or novel political influences.

At higher institutions in Ghana, students commonly display specific traits that reveal their underlying and overt political beliefs during campus campaigns and elections. This stage serves as a platform for young adults to either reject the belief systems they learned at home due to exposure to new political experiences, or to find a middle ground between a newly encountered belief system and the ideologies instilled by their parents through familial political socialisation. The presence of political factions and divisions among students on campuses, as well as their participation in political discussions both within and outside of school, unequivocally illustrate their political views and behaviours, which ultimately define their political identities. Nevertheless, the precise component responsible for shaping this particular type of social identity continues to elude us. The study aimed to investigate the elements that influence how students at schools of education negotiate their political identity.

1.3       Objective of the study

The aim of this study is focused on evaluation of Identity Politics among  Undergraduates  in Ghana. Specifically, the study sks to:

i.          Investigate the prevalence of political negotiation base on undergraduate identity  in Ghana tertiary institution .

ii.        Ascertain parental factors influencing undergraduates political identity during elections in Ghana

iii.      Determine school factors  influencing undergraduates political identity during elections in Ghana.

1.4 Research Questions

i.          What is the prevalence of political negotiation base on undergraduate identity  in Ghana tertiary institution?

ii.        What are the  parental factors influencing undergraduates political identity during elections in Ghana?

iii.      What are the school factors  influencing undergraduates political identity during elections in Ghana.?

1.5Research Hypotheses

Ho: The prevalence of political negotiation base on undergraduate identity in Ghana tertiary institution is low .

Hi: The prevalence of political negotiation base on undergraduate identity  in Ghana tertiary institution is high .

1.6       Significance of the study

This research is significant in such a way that it electoral bodies, civil societies, and non-state actors through the result of the study would develop a framework spearheaded to strengthen democracy by mounting vigorous campaigns to educate and guide the identity formation of young adolescent.The study will enlighten parents on the  need not lose sight of the fact that every bit of parentchild political socialization activity demonstrated at home has a tendency of creating political awareness among young adults when they eventually leave home.More so, tertiary institution by the result of the study will acknowledge and understand that student teachers’ membership in such groups exposes them to ideologies of all kinds around which other distinct forms of identities such as political identity are negotiated. Empirically, the study will contribute to body of knowledge and serve as a reference material to student and scholars who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.

1.7       Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on cused on evaluation of Identity Politics among  Undergraduates  in Ghana.  The study further discussed the prevalence of political negotiation base on undergraduate identity  in Ghana tertiary institution and ascertain parental and school factors influencing undergraduates political identity during elections in Ghana  The study will draw its participant from colleges of education  in the southern part of Ghana.

1.8  Limitation of the study

The researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that political discourse is vast thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only potential  undergraduates southern part of Ghana .  Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for  other District within Ghana. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit,

despite the constraint  encountered during the  research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Election: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. 

Political identity: Identity politics is politics based on a particular identity, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social background. It is a form of social identity marking membership of certain groups that share a common struggle for a certain form of power. 


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