Questions of identity arise continuously in contemporary public debate. The purpose of this short paper is to understand what this substantive body of new evidence can tell us about some of the most important public policy questions that involve questions of identity.

Why are questions of identity so important? What, if anything, should politicians be doing about them? Should policymakers leave people's identities alone or, given their importance to our shared life as citizens, help shape them in some way? If policymakers should act in this terrain, how should they do so and what challenges do they face?

This paper addresses these questions by surveying new evidence from five years of research under the Economic and Social Research Council's Identities and Social Action programme.