Cultural Wars in American Politics: Critical Reviews of a Popular Myth

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Overview

That contemporary American politics is divided into two differing ideological, moral, and lifestyle groups - a divide so severe as to constitute a "cultural war" - is a widely-held popular belief. The most systematic academic version of the culture wars claim has appeared in two influential books by sociologist James Davison Hunter, the earlier dating from 1991. Hunter's formulation of the myth serves the contributors to this volume as a point of departure. They add more measured analyses to the rhetorical overstatement in Hunter's claim, assessing its accuracy with a broad range of evidence based on individual attitudes, subcultural values, political party dynamics, and culture-wide ideological currents. On every level of analysis, the contributors find that Hunter's bipolar axis obscures the variety of ways in which culture actually functions in current politics. That variety receives the nuanced treatment it deserves in this collection. Examining the full range of sources of cultural politics and offering competing models for understanding the current ideological landscape, this volume will be useful in a variety of classroom and seminar settings, from political sociology and social movements to contemporary American culture and the sociology of religion.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

About the Contributors
Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
2 What American Culture War? A View from the Trenches as Opposed to the Command Posts and the Press Corps 17
3 A War for America's Soul? The American Religious Landscape 39
4 Have Americans' Social Attitudes Become More Polarized? 63
5 Religious Affiliation, Commitment, and Ideology among U.S. Elites 101
6 Culture Wars? Insights from Ethnographies of Two Protestant Seminaries 121
7 Culture Wars and the Party System: Religion and Realignment, 1972-1993 145
8 Civility or the Culture Wars in Politics and Religion: Case Study of Oliver North in Virginia 159
9 The Myth of Culture Wars: The Case of American Protestantism 175
10 Lambs among the Lions: America's Culture Wars in Cross-Cultural Perspective 199
11 Religion, Ideology, and Electoral Politics 221
12 Dimensions of Cultural Tension among the American Public 237
13 Culture Wars(?): Remapping the Battleground 259
Culture Wars, Social Movements, and Institutional Politics 283
Index 297
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