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Americans More Alike Than Different?

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  • Americans More Alike Than Different?


    In America Against The World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes (Pew Research Center) conclude that:

    "Americans are far more alike than different from one another" (219).

    Given the sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans, this would seem to be only half the story.

    Do you agree or disagree with Kohut and Stokes conclusion? Why?

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  • #2
    Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

    It's not a question of whether we are more alike than different (an impossible metric to measure) but whether our differences are greater than differences with other populations (say, Europe, Asia, or the Middle East).

    For example, is the difference between Democrats and Republicans significantly greater than that between, say, Democrats and some European socialist party? Or Republicans and a European traditionalist party?

    To me, Democrats and Republicans differ primarily in which special interests they want to funnel the pork to. They don't differ in the basic desire to squeeze taxpayers to subsidize special interests that will pay for their campaigns. They both think they're saving the world through invasive meddling.
    Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

    snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

    Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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    • #3
      Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

      I would have thought that the interesting questions is: Are Democrats and Republicans more alike than (Conservatives and Labor) or (Christian Democrats and Social Democrats) or (Spanish Socialist Workers Part and People's Party) or (LDP and DPJ) and so on.

      I think that the Taiwanese Pan-Blue and Pan-Green coalitions will differ from each other far more than American parties do; one coalition wants unity with mainland China whilst the other does not. That's a big difference. But if we look at cases such as France, I think that we'll see very little difference between policies by party - the current Sarko administration having the potential to be a rare exception to this. I suspect that amongst "developed" countries, we'll find very little deviation from whatever differences and similarities we find in the US.
      Last edited by Nikolas; 05-24-2007, 03:07 PM.
      A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

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      • #4
        Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

        Judging by the title of the study, I'd guess they are concluding that the differences between America Right and America Left are smaller than the differences between America and Not America. Really though, do you need a study to tell you that? I'm constantly amazed at the frequency of studies coming out to tell us random useless things we already know.

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        • #5
          Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

          Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
          I'm constantly amazed at the frequency of studies coming out to tell us random useless things we already know.
          And that people are getting paid to run these studies.
          Gigan - Shaman (Resto)
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          • #6
            Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

            In America Against The World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes (Pew Research Center) conclude that:

            "Americans are far more alike than different from one another" (219).


            The book concludes that people who aren't Americans dislike Americans because we are like one another? Sounds like they're calling us fascists.

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            • #7
              Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

              We are more alike, of course.

              On just about all issues the core point is generally agreed upon.

              Unwanted pregnancies are bad. Abortion is bad. Violence is bad. Terrorism is bad. Divorce is bad. Illegal immigration is bad. Poverty is bad. Sickness is bad.

              The conflict comes about when we try to get rid of the bad things. We are fighting about how to solve the problems because the resources available to solve them are limited.

              So in a way the fact that there is conflict is a good sign. It shows that there are allot of people trying to solve the problem.

              What I think is meta-bad is that there are some that want to gain from the conflict, not contribute to the solution. The leaders of media are guilty of this. The "master minds" of politics are guilty of this. I really think that most politicians do want to find a solution but they end up being manipulated themselves by the power brokers. Many in the media do want to at least expose the problems in an understandable way so the public can work at a resolution. But those in charge of the media are more concerned about the money that can be raked in by sensational news.

              And then there are those that argue for arguments sake. They bath themselves in the conflict. But maybe it is because we never really learned how to discuss things. The ancient art of debate is lost and in it's place is a self indulgence of ego driven ideas.

              In the sandbox I often see this. Questions to statement ratios are very tiny. And many times questions are not genuine. Instead they are leading in nature.

              One of the bigger things on the interwebs are blogs. These are almost always statements of opinion. Rarely do you see questions.

              Maybe it has always been this way. And maybe, like many things in the modern day, it is only now showing it's ugliness because of the visibility everybody has.

              And maybe, just maybe, this conflict is just a necessary stage to a better place. Because now that we can actually argue. Before our ideas where isolated geographically and thus allowed to fester without constraint.

              Maybe.
              I’m not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
              - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
              - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
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              - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
              - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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              • #8
                Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

                The conclusion is irrelevant and makes no sense without proper expanded context. You cant compare any population to any other population and attempt to understand why either is disliked. Any idiot can tell you that the US is disliked by a large number of the global populous for a few simple reasons:
                ∙The US is an affluent, powerful, idealistic country with outspoken and active leaders.
                ∙The US fuels the tourist economy of many countries by a much larger proportion than any other nation on earth. While this is an economic plus, people see american tourists as a boon.
                ∙The US has a tendency to get involved in conflict and bring our allies along with us. We're never the second guys to the fight, we're the first, and the fact that we get other people to come with us to what they think are stupid and pointless conflicts that they shouldnt have a part in makes people mad.

                There are quite a few more, but all of these are basic knowledge to anyone who has any kind of world sense. But I digress, back to why the point is irrelevant:

                If they were speaking in political terms, the conclusion is contradictory. Many Americans differ sharply on a wide range of political issues to the point where it causes civil unrest. However, most Americans are alike in that we all value a core set of ideals which govern us and give us basic liberties. There are more than two political parties in the United States, though the Dems and Reps are the primary two. There are also a wide range of political activist groups, action committees, non-profit organizations, businesses and others that play key roles in the political melting pot of the US, each with its own individual agenda and unique set of beliefs and values.

                If they are speaking in socioeconomic terms, the conclusion is false. The united states has one of the largest and most diverse socioeconomic bases of any country in the world. We have rich and poor people from all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds.

                If they are speaking in cultural sharing, the conclusion is somewhat true. Large numbers of the population shop at grocery stores, eat at restaurants, work steady jobs, practice some sort of religious faith, buy consumer goods. However, this makes us no different from any other affluent country on earth.

                If they are speaking humanistically, the conclusion is shared with the rest of the world. Each of us posesses the same set of organs, the same basic nucleotides, amino acids, peptide chains and atomic structure to compose our beings. So everyone is more alike than different, regardless of nationality.

                The bottom line is this:
                The exact same conclusion could be made about ANY country in the world. The British are more alike than different. The Japanese are more alike than different. The Nigerians are more alike than different. It's a point made by people who couldnt come up with a solid basis for a rational conclusion in order to get people to agree with them. To borrow a phrase from our british friends, the point they make is "a load of bollocks."

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                • #9
                  Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

                  I think El Gringo Grande is on the right path...The first responders looked at political differences among American politics. The most interesting answers to this question for me lie along cultural lines not political. And in that vein I'd have to echo El Gringo. Most Americans stick out like sore thumbs when they are out of the country...easily identifiable. I havent' read the article but I'd have to lean in agreement with the researchers.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

                    Brian meets the People's Front of Judea at the forum:

                    http://leftspot.com/blog/?q=node/129
                    Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

                    snooggums' density principal: "The more dense a population, the more dense a population."

                    Iliana: "You're a great friend but if we're ever chased by zombies I'm tripping you."

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                    • #11
                      Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

                      I have no opinion on the thesis of the book at this time. My own research is looking at how Americans use the term 'anti-american' to express their internal cultural divide.

                      Here is an excerpt from Kohut and Stokes:

                      "We originally intended to write a book that would provide readers with in-depth insights into America’s image problem, which we gained conducting 91,000 interviews in fifty nations and the Palestinian Authority from 2002 through 2005. But in the course of considering the roots and rise of anti-Americanism, we were struck by how little attention had been paid to the American public and whether it contributes to the problems people around the world have with the United States.

                      How different are American values and attitudes from those held by people in other countries? Is there an American way of thinking about things? In particular, are American values different in significant ways from those of Europeans, with whom many Americans share ancestry and who live at a comparable level of economic development? Where are the biggest attitudinal gaps between Americans and the rest of the world? Are these differences growing? How could that be in this age of globalization that some say is molding a common culture? Are some groups and regions of America—the Democratic-voting “blue states”—really closer to Europe in outlook and attitude than the rest of the country, that is, the Republican-voting “red states”?

                      And, most important, to the extent that these differences between Americans and other people exist, in what ways are they shaping the United States’ image in the new century? Are the values and attitudes of the American public fueling much of the anti-Americanism in the world?

                      These questions became even more relevant after George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004. Prior to that, overseas critics of the president found it easy to say their problem with America was really President Bush, not a considered judgment of the American people. But the results of the 2004 U.S. presidential election made that rationalization untenable. The November 4, 2004, page-one headline of the British tabloid Daily Mirror put it this way: “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?”

                      A second question about the American character evolves out of the worldwide impact of American customs, products, and popular culture. There is so much America almost everywhere in the world: from a Starbucks inside Beijing’s Forbidden City to rap beats in the popular music of every continent on the globe, the ubiquitous popularity of the cartoon character Bart Simpson, the global notoriety of Michael Jackson, and the infiltration of American idioms and expressions into every major language in the world. What is it about American culture and products that make them so attractive, yet at the same time raise such alarm about Americanization and the spread of American power?

                      So this is a book about Americans—how their attitudes and values differ from those of other publics and the way those differences affect the world’s views of the United States. This is not a work of speculation, opinion, or theory. It relies principally on international survey data to address the issues. With international attitudes polarized on so many important matters today, such a book is timely and long overdue. But it is only now that it can be written. It is now that sufficient in-depth, multinational public opinion data has become available to approach the issues properly. The surveys are in part a beneficial by-product of globalization, which has created the capacity to do professional market research in many countries of the world."
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                      • #12
                        Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

                        Well, I think that Canadians and United States Citizens have more things alike then different. But I will consult with my relatives in Detroit, Pontiac, Sarnia and Hamilton when we have our summer family picnic for their feedback.

                        Lucky Shot

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                        • #13
                          Re: Americans More Alike Than Different?

                          Originally posted by Lucky Shot View Post
                          Well, I think that Canadians and United States Citizens have more things alike then different. But I will consult with my relatives in Detroit, Pontiac, Sarnia and Hamilton when we have our summer family picnic for their feedback.

                          Lucky Shot
                          Canadians have similar values to Americans in the Northern states. A great read on this is Michael Adams, Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values. I sure his conclusion that Canadians are a 'more autonomous people than Americans ... less conformist' will elicit a howl (p. 123).

                          Curiously, ever since de Tocqueville people have observed that conformity is part of what makes Americans exceptional... Between Adams and the Kohut/Stokes texts you get a good picture of how American's are highly conformist around certain beliefs and values and highly divergent in other areas.
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