Unity and Diversity in American Political Culture: An Exploratory Study of the National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity

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Abstract

Drawing on participant observation and quantitative analysis, this paper investigates the National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity, a series of local conversation projects organized by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1995 and 1996. After linking this program to debates about American political culture, the paper analyzes the observational and survey data in light of five hypotheses about the conversations. The conversations reveal fundamental, unresolved dilemmas regarding the compatibility between American identity and ethnic pluralism, although the participants sometimes cope with these dilemmas in culturally creative ways.

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