A number of strands in contemporary politics turn on the need, sometimes the demand, for recognition. The demand for recognition in these latter cases is given urgency by the supposed links between recognition and identity, where this latter term designates something like a person's understanding of who they are, of their fundamental defining characteristics as a human being. But the importance of recognition has been modified and intensified by the new understanding of individual dignity that emerges at the end of the eighteenth century. General recognition was built into the socially derived identity by virtue of the very fact that it was based on social categories that everyone took for granted. The importance of recognition is now universally acknowledged in one form or another; on an intimate plane, we are all aware of how identity can be formed or malformed through the course of our contact with significant others.