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Culture Wars and Enduring American Dilemmas

ISBN-10: 0472050885
ISBN-13: 9780472050888
Edition: 2010
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Description: The idea of a culture war, or wars, has been around in America since the 1960s: at its heart, the theory says that an underlying ideological schism in our country is what's responsible for the polarizing debates on everything from the separation of  More...

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Book details

List price: $27.95
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 2/4/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 284
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.836

The idea of a culture war, or wars, has been around in America since the 1960s: at its heart, the theory says that an underlying ideological schism in our country is what's responsible for the polarizing debates on everything from the separation of church and state, to abortion, to gay marriage, to affirmative action.Irene Taviss Thomson, inCulture Wars and Enduring American Dilemmas, addresses at an unprecedented level of detail the question of whether political and public intellectuals on both sides of political debates actually turn out to be pretty much the same when it comes to their attitudes on cultural questions. She also takes on the discussion of how culture actually operates as a factor in real-world activities and attitudes.To accomplish the task, Thomson analyzed hundreds of articles addressing hot-button issues over two decades in four magazines:National Review,Time,The New Republic, andThe Nation. She also examined a wide array of other writings and statements from a substantial number of public intellectuals from all camps.What she found might surprise you: based on her research, there is no single cultural divide or cultural source that can account for the positions that have been adopted. The differences between people who are hypothetically on the same side of the "culture wars" are in fact at least as great as the differences they have with the people who "oppose" them. And while issues such as religion, homosexuality, sexual conduct, and abortion have figured prominently in public discussion, in fact there is no single thread that unifies responses to each of these cultural dilemmas for any of the writers.Americans have been debating public morality as long as there has been an America. Thomson contends that those discussions don't take place within a single set of values; instead, the country wrestles with a series of dilemmas, each revisited as new issues or situations evoke it.Irene Taviss Thomson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, having taught in the Department of Social Sciences and History at Fairleigh Dickinson University for more than 30 years. Previously, she taught in the Department of Sociology at Harvard.

Culture Wars and Warring About Culture
The Culture Wars
Warring over Culture
The Culture Warriors
American Culture
Respect for Religion but Uncertainty about Its Role
The Public Sphere and Civil Religion
Dilemmas of Church-State Relations
Religious Belief and Secularization
Conclusions
Moral but not Moralistic
Through the Lenses of Morality
Abortion and Homosexuality
Moral Decline and Relativism
Moralizing and Legislating Morality
Conclusions
Individualism but not to Excess
Celebrating Individualism and Community
American Individualism: Complexities and Controversies Critiquing Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism in Relationship to the Individual, the Group, and the Society
Conclusions
Pluralism within One Culture
Historical Perspectives
Contemporary Images of Pluralism
Multicultural Education and the Canon Wars
The Difficulties of Tolerance
Conclusions
Antielitist But Respecting Achievement
Who Are the Elites, and What Is Elite Culture?
Elitism and Funding for the Arts
Ambivalence toward Elites
Elitism in the Feminist and Gay Rights Movements
Conclusions
Moderation, Plain and Simple
Culture, Class, and American Exceptionalism
Cultural Politics
American Exceptionalism?
The Continuing Significance of Class, Race, and Gender
A Polarized Population?
Sarah Palin and a Renascent Culture War?
A Multitude of Internal Divisions
Conclusions
Concluding Comments
Methodological Appendix
References
Index

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