Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: September 2014

4 - The Ethnic Cauldron and Group Consciousness


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.

Brewer, Marilynn B., “Identity and Conflict,” in Intergroup Conflicts and Their Resolution: Social Psychological Perspectives, ed. Bar-Tal, Daniel (New York: Psychology Press, 2011)
Bobo, Lawrence, “Prejudice as Group Position: Micro-Foundations of a Sociological Approach to Racism and Race Relations,” Journal of Social Issues 55 (1999): 445–72
Sears, David O. and Kinder, Donald, “Whites’ Opposition to Busing: On Conceptualizing and Operationalizing Group Conflict,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48 (1985): 1141–47
Eberhardt, Jennifer L. and Randall, Jennifer L., “The Essential Notion of Race”(cited in Cultural Divides: Understanding and Overcoming Group Conflict, ed. Prentice, Deborah and Miller, Dale [New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1999])
Converse, Philip E., “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics,” in Ideology and Discontent, ed. Apter, David E. (London: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964)
Converse, Philip E. and Campbell, Angus, “Political Standards in Secondary Groups,” in Group Dynamics, ed. Cartwright, Dorwin and Zander, Alvin (New York: Harper Row, 1968)
Campbell, Angus, et al., The American Voter (New York: Wiley, 1960)
Hyman, Herbert, “Problems in the Collection of Opinion-Research Data,” American Journal of Sociology 55, no. 4 (1950): 362–70
Kelley, Harold H., “Two Functions of Reference Groups,” in Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Readings in Social Psychology, ed. Swanson, Guy, Newcomb, Theodore, and Hartley, Eugene (New York: Holt, 1952), 410–14
Erikson, Erik H., Childhood and Society (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993 [1950])
Tajfel, Henri and Turner, John C., “The Social Identity Theory of Inter-Group Behavior,” in Psychology of Intergroup Relations, ed. Austin, William and Worchel, Stephen (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1986)
Thibaut, John W. and Kelley, Harold H., The Social Psychology of Groups (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1959)
Levine, Robert A. and Campbell, Donald T., Ethnocentricism: Theories of Conflict, Ethnic Attitudes and Group Behavior (New York: Wiley, 1972)
Bobo, Lawrence, “Race, Public Opinion and the Social Sphere,” Public Opinion Quarterly 61 (1997): 1–15
Portes, and Rumbaut, (Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001], 165)
Hurtado, Aida, Gurin, Patricia, and Peng, Timothy, “Social Identities – A Framework for Studying the Adaptations of Immigrants and Ethnics: Mexicans in the United States,” Social Problems 41, no. 1 (1994): 129–51
Tafoya, Sonya M., Johnson, Hans, and Hill, Laura E., “Who Chooses to Choose Two?” in The American People: Census 2000, ed. Farley, Reynolds and Haaga, John (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005)
Lee, Jennifer and Bean, Frank D., The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line in Twenty-First Century America (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2010)
Portes, Alejandro and Rumbaut, Ruben G., Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second-Generation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)
Kibria, Nazil, “The Concept of ‘Bicultural Families’ and Its Implications for Research on Immigrant and Ethnic Families,” in Immigration and the Family. Research and Policy on U.S. Immigrants, ed. Booth, Alan, Crouter, Ann C., and Landale, Nancy (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997)
Omi, Michael, “Shifting the Blame: Racial Ideology and Politics in the Post-Civil Rights Era,” Critical Sociology 18, no. 3 (1999): 77–98
Portes, Alejandro and MacLeod, Dag, “What Shall I Call Myself? Hispanic Identity Formation in the Second Generation,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 19, no. 3 (1996): 523–47
Wong, Janelle, et al., Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011), 162
Lien, Pei-te, Conway, M. Margaret, and Wong, Janelle, “The Contours and Sources of Ethnic Identity Choices among Asian Americans,” Social Science Quarterly 84, no. 2 (2003): 461–81
Waters, Mary, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990)
Waters, Mary, Black Identities: West Indian Dreams and American Realities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press) 2001
Pew Hispanic Center, “2002 National Survey of Latinos: Summary of Findings” [Washington, DC, December]. Accessed online at
Hajnal, Zoltan, Changing White Attitudes toward Black Political Leadership (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Kinder, Donald R. and Dale-Riddle, Allison, The End of Race? Obama, 2008, and Racial Politics in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012)
Sears, David O., Hensler, Carl P., and Speer, Leslie K., “Whites’ Opposition to ‘Busing’: Self-Interest or Symbolic Politics?American Political Science Review 73 (1979): 369–84
Sears, David O., van Laar, Colette, Carrillo, Mary, and Kosterman, Rick, “Is It Really Racism?: The Origins of White American Opposition to Race-Targeted Policies,” Public Opinion Quarterly 61 (1997): 16–53
Stoll, Michael A., “African Americans and the Color Line,” in The American People: Census 2000, ed. Farley, Reynolds and Haaga, John (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005)