Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion (Chicago Studies in American Politics)

February 23, 2021
Us Against Them: Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion (Chicago Studies in American Politics)

Ethnocentrism—our tendency to partition the human world intoin-groups and out-groups—pervades societies around the world.Surprisingly, though, few scholars have explored its role inpolitical life. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam fill this gap withUs Against Them, their definitive explanation of howethnocentrism shapes American public opinion. Arguing that humansare broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam exploreits impact on our attitudes toward an array of issues, includingthe war on terror, humanitarian assistance, immigration, thesanctity of marriage, and the reform of social programs.The authors ground their study in previous theories from a widerange of disciplines, establishing a new framework forunderstanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politicallyconsequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence toidentify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes publicopinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States,the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends oncircumstance.Exploring the implications of these findings for politicalknowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies outside the UnitedStates, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding ofhow democracy functions.