Posts Tagged ‘fragmentation’

In the Part 1 of this post, I asked whether Americans were increasingly dividing along the “culture wars” battlefront – an impression one would certainly get from media coverage of politics over the last decade or two. The research shows that, while the political class has become more polarized in the last generation, average Americans have not. On the so-called values issues, with the possible exception of abortion, Americans cluster around the middle, not in two opposed camps, and that middle has moved a bit to the left.

Source: Pepperdine Univ.

If the “culture wars” description of a fragmenting America is not accurate, does that mean that there are no growing divisions? Not necessarily. Here, I consider three deeper cleavages among Americans: by immigration status, by race, and by class (especially, by education).

(I draw largely on this 2009 article and chapter 9 of Century of Difference.)


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The political struggles and the hot rhetoric of recent years, especially around social issues, has led many commentators to worry – and perhaps some activists to hope – that America is fragmenting; that Americans are becoming increasingly, deeply divided against each other.

Source: Fibonacci Blue

Studies of this proposition have yielded a complex picture: Our politics have certainly become more polarized in the last half-century, but average Americans have not become increasingly divided on the “culture war” issues that have so attracted the media and many politicians. The divisions that are deeper and more profound are the social divisions – by immigrant status, by race, and especially the widening division by social class.

In Part 1 of this post, I review what’s happened on the political and culture wars fronts. In Part 2, I review the ways that immigration, race, and class — notably, educational attainment — divide Americans.

(I draw from this 2009 article and from chapter 9 of Century of Difference.)


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