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The political spectrum of group-boundary definition

This paper argues that group-boundary definition is a key driver underlying all political movements and that it provides a useful way to understand the political spectrum. 

If accepted, it provides a basis for common ground between leftist and rightist thought.

Group boundaries define who can access the benefits of society and these benefits are largely to do with fairness, care and cooperation. Those we place outside of group boundaries will receive fewer, or none, of these benefits. 

Humans have evolved a deep preference for belonging to a group and for sharing resources within them. Outside that of our kin, or immediate community, our group-boundary definitions are primarily ideological (say that of nation, culture, tradition, borders, or religion). As the existence of a social group means the existence of group boundaries these definitions are, by necessity, discriminatory.


Rightist thought tends to use narratives or ideas to constrict boundaries and exclude people. This may include using ideas of race, place of birth, sexuality, religion, ancestral heritage, cultural values, or others, to infer fundamental differences that justify the denial of social benefits or social exclusion.


Leftist thought tends to see such group-boundary definitions as discriminatory and aims to expand group boundaries to include more people, and - if moving toward the end conclusions of concepts of moral equality- to eliminate them completely. As the destruction of group boundaries is in opposition to human group preference, leftists entertain a false belief that you can dissolve group boundaries without eroding constituency. This is a major problem for the left.

This spectrum of preference, from open to closed group boundaries, provides a more reliable way to understand the political spectrum. Our paper examines what this means.

Read the full paper(s) in the download section.


Public release

The Political Spectrum of Group Boundary Definition

Five-page concept overview.

Does not include references please see academic version for full paper.

10 min read

Academic paper

Paper Screenshot

Fully referenced. Currently under journal consideration.

PDF (Draft / Do not quote)

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