Voluntary esteem associations form for the purposes of magnifying positive esteem of their members. But individuals can be disesteemed by virtue of their being associated–as members of a race might be in a case of racial prejudice. This will imply: that members of the disesteemed association will not be given access to ‘voluntary’ esteem associations for which they would otherwise qualify; and that individuals’ esteem is attached to the esteem of the association to which they are assigned whether they like that or not. Such involuntary associations can readily form groups: only ‘in-group’ esteem may be available for them. Moreover, such groups may be especially good at managing free-rider problems by mobilizing extreme in-group loyalty. Or at least, will be so unless individuals can disguise their membership of the disesteemed class. Secrecy and the related phenomenon of ‘coming-out’ are discussed in this connection.
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