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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: September 2014

4 - The Ethnic Cauldron and Group Consciousness

Summary

This chapter turns from patriotism to ethnic consciousness, the other side of the dialectic of nationality and ethnicity. Multiculturalism, in the sense of demands for group-conscious policies, was pushed onto the American political agenda by continuing racial inequalities, even after legal discrimination was ended, by the appearance of two new and growing “visible minorities” that had entered the United States because of immigration reform, and by the sense among many minority leaders that whites continued to resist strong government efforts aiming at compensatory redistribution of political and economic resources. Presumably, if the white majority readily accepted minorities’ grievances, then there would be less pressure for group-based rights and other multiculturalist policies.

In Chapter 2 we suggested that the psychological platform or image of human nature embedded in ideological multiculturalism is the set of assumptions we described as a generic politicized group consciousness paradigm, specifying that people possess strong in-group loyalties that dominate political reactions when ethnic interests are engaged. But American public opinion has generally not been closely examined to determine how common those assumed psychological foundations are.

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