Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion

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Overview

Ethnocentrism-our tendency to partition the human world into in-groups and out-groups-pervades societies around the world. Surprisingly, through, few scholars have explored its role in contemporary political life. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam fill this gap with Us Against Them, their definitive explanation of how ethnocentrism shapes American public opinion.

Arguing that humans are broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam identify is impact on our attitudes toward an array issues, including the war on terrorism, humanitarian assistance, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, and the welfare state. The authors ground their study in previous theories from a wide range of disciplines, establishing a new framework for understanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politically consequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence to identify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes public opinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States, the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends on circumstance. Exploring the implications of these findings for political knowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies out side the United States, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding of how democracy functions.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Donald R. Kinder is the Philip E. Converse Collegiate Professor in the Department of Political Science and professor of psychology and research professor in the Center for Political Studies of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Cindy D. Kam is associate professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction: Sumner's Conjecture 1

I The Nature of Ethnocentrism 5

1 Four Theories in Search of Ethnocentrism 7

2 Ethnocentrism Reconceived 31

3 American Ethnocentrism Today 42

II Empirical Cases 71

4 Enemies Abroad 73

5 America First 105

6 Strangers in the Land 125

7 Straight versus Gay 151

8 Women's Place 172

9 Us versus Them in the American Welfare State 182

10 Ethnocentrism in Black and White 200

Conclusion: Ethnocentrism and Political Life 219

Appendix 237

Notes 245

References 315

Index 345

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