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American Identity and the Politics of Multiculturalism

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology

  • Date Published: August 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521828833

$ 108.00 (P)

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About the Authors
  • The civil rights movement and immigration reform transformed American politics in the mid-1960s. Demographic diversity and identity politics raised the challenge of e pluribus unum anew, and multiculturalism emerged as a new ideological response to this dilemma. This book uses national public opinion data and public opinion data from Los Angeles to compare ethnic differences in patriotism and ethnic identity and ethnic differences in support for multicultural norms and group-conscious policies. The authors find evidence of strong patriotism among all groups and the classic pattern of assimilation among the new wave of immigrants. They argue that there is a consensus in rejecting harder forms of multiculturalism that insist on group rights but also a widespread acceptance of softer forms that are tolerant of cultural differences and do not challenge norms, such as by insisting on the primacy of English. There is little evidence of a link between strong group consciousness and a lack of patriotism, even in the most disadvantaged minority groups. The authors conclude that the United States is not breaking apart due to the new ethnic diversity.

    • Combines a historical review of American national identity with a review of current public opinion data on coping with ethnic diversity
    • Offers a design that permits the comparison of minority groups and immigrants at different stages of integration
    • The first book to seriously look at public opinion about multiculturalism, an ideology with wide support among political and academic elites
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "With each new wave of immigrants, the United States must assess whether social cohesion and national identity continue to thrive. In a thoughtful, empirically rich assessment of racial and ethnic group attitudes in the early twenty-first century, Citrin and Sears offer a confident assessment that immigration, diversity, and a growing national respect for multicultural values do not undermine a strong attachment to the nation."
    Louis DeSipio, University of California, Irvine

    "Two of our most eminent scholars of American racial and ethnic relations now provide us with a fascinating and deeply important study of the ways in which new Americans are, and are not, coming to resemble longer-term Americans. The analysis is careful, nuanced, empirically rich, and - perhaps to the chagrin of many students of race and ethnicity - largely optimistic. New Americans are both patriotic and attached to their group and their culture; there need be no contradiction between identity and incorporation. Citrin and Sears offer appropriate cautions and warnings, but their overall message is a much-needed and well-founded endorsement of Americans’ capacity for stable renewal."
    Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard University

    "This is a book worth waiting for, a rare mix of theoretical guidance and respect for facts. It has it all: what Americans think about America, about who they are, and about each other. The tone is positive but with nuance: the promise of American life is real for newcomers, but immigration and culture polarize white Americans and the biggest divide is still between black and white."
    Richard Johnston, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver

    "This important analysis of the effects of ethnoracial diversity on American identity draws two major conclusions: first, immigration is not leading to weakening national attachment, and second, African Americans continue to be distinctive on several measures, setting them off not only from whites but from Asian Americans and Latinos as well. Citrin and Sears break new ground with their emphasis on psychological dispositions toward national unity, but their conclusions place them well within a growing body of scholarship … Summing up: recommended."
    A. L. Aoki, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521828833
    • length: 354 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus. 43 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The challenge of e pluribus unum
    2. The political psychology of identity choice
    3. Contours of American national identity
    4. The ethnic cauldron and group consciousness
    5. Public opinion and multiculturalism's guiding norms
    6. Do ethnic identities and multiculturalism collide with national identities?
    7. Multicultural policies: ethnic consensus and cleavage
    8. The dynamics of multicultural-policy preferences
    9. Multiculturalism and party politics
    10. Conclusion.

  • Authors

    Jack Citrin, University of California, Berkeley
    Jack Citrin is Heller Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He currently serves as the director of the Institute of Governmental Studies and has previously served as the director of University of California Data and the acting director of the Survey Research Center. Among his publications are Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (with David Sears, 1982), How Race, Immigration and Ethnicity are Shaping the California Electorate (2002), and Ethnic Context, Race Relations, and California Politics (with Bruce E. Cain and Cara Wong, 2000). His work has appeared in such journals as the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics. Two of his articles have won prizes from the American Political Science Association. He is a founding member of the International Society of Political Psychology.

    David O. Sears, University of California, Los Angeles
    David O. Sears is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has twice been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has served as Dean of Social Sciences and as Director of the Institute for Social Science Research at UCLA. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and the president of the International Society of Political Psychology. Among his publications are Social Psychology (twelve editions), Obama's Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America (2010), and more than 150 journal articles and book chapters on psychology and political science.

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