Who Counts as an American?: The Boundaries of National Identity
Why is national identity such a potent force in people's lives? And is the force positive or negative? In this thoughtful and provocative book, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse develops a social theory of national identity and uses a national survey, focus groups, and experiments to answer these important questions in the American context. Her results show that the combination of group commitment and the setting of exclusive boundaries on the national group affects how people behave toward their fellow Americans. Strong identifiers care a great deal about their national group. They want to help and to be loyal to their fellow Americans. By limiting who counts as an American, though, these strong identifiers place serious limits on who benefits from their pro-group behavior. Help and loyalty are offered only to 'true Americans,' not Americans who do not count and who are pushed to the periphery of the national group.
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accepted African Americans American identity American national identity American People Survey Arab Americans argue attachment attitudes and behaviors atypical beliefs Christian commitment Democrat dependent variables Doosje effects egalitarianism Ellemers ethnic excluded category exclusive boundaries fellow Americans fellow group members fellow nationals focus groups group boundaries group dynamics group identity group membership group norms hard boundaries helping behaviors Hispanic Hogg hold homogeneous Hurricane Katrina iden important included individual-choice individualism ingroup less marginalized Americans marginalized group members mean national group national identity strength negative norms and stereotypes obligation to help one’s outgroup participants Party identification patriotism people’s percent Pew Research Center positive pride prototypical American prototypical group members prototypical members questions race setting of hard significantly social group social identity social theory soft boundaries speaker spending strong identifiers theory of national transformed to range typical Americans United University of Nebraska–Lincoln weak identifiers welfare