Identity and Form

Jessica A. Clarke
2014 Social Science Research Network  
Recent controversies over identity claims have prompted questions about who should qualify for affirmative action, who counts as family, who is a man or a woman, and who is entitled to the benefits of U.S. citizenship. Commentators across the political spectrum have made calls to settle these debates with evidence of official designations on birth certificates, application forms, or other records. This move toward formalities seeks to transcend the usual divide between those who believe
more » ... es should be determined based on objective biological or social standards, and those who believe identities are a matter of individual choice. Yet legal scholars have often overlooked the role of formalities in identity determination doctrines. This Article identifies and describes the phenomenon of "formal identity," in which the law recognizes those identities
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2418606 fatcat:2nrwjwtxyjg3ve5wsir6pz3ys4