British Journal of Political Science



Original Article

Multiculturalism in American Public Opinion


JACK  CITRIN  a1 , DAVID O.  SEARS  a2 , CHRISTOPHER  MUSTE  a3 and CARA  WONG  a1 1
a1 Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
a2 Department of Political Science, Univeristy of California, Los Angeles
a3 Department of Political Science, Louisiana State University

Abstract

Multiculturalism has emerged to challenge liberalism as an ideological solution in coping with ethnic diversity in the United States. This article develops a definition of political multiculturalism which refers to conceptions of identity, community and public policy. It then analyses the 1994 General Social Survey and a 1994 survey of Los Angeles County to assess the contours of mass support and opposition to multiculturalism, testing hypotheses concerning the role of social background, liberalism–conservatism and racial hostility. The main conclusions are that ‘hard’ versions of multiculturalism are rejected in all ethnic groups, that a liberal political self-identification boosts support for multiculturalism, and that racial hostility is a consistent source of antagonism to the new ethnic agenda of multiculturalism. There is strong similarity in the results in both the national and Los Angeles samples.



Footnotes

1 This article draws on the authors' ‘Liberalism and Multiculturalism: The New Ethnic Agenda in Mass Opinion’, presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, DC, 1995. We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Brian Duff in the preparation of this article. All data and documentation necessary to replicate this analysis can be obtained from the authors.