Monday, August 11, 2008

Two Countries?

Terry Teachout analyzes new twists in identity politics. An excerpt:

A week after Brooks’s latest exercise in cultural demography appeared in the Times, Bill Bishop and Robert G. Cushing published The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart.3 In this book, an expansion of Bishop’s American-Statesman articles, the two authors offer exhaustive documentation of their original thesis that Americans “have clustered in communities of sameness . . . whose inhabitants find other Americans to be culturally incomprehensible.”

The “communities of sameness” explored by Bishop and Cushing range from the very liberal neighborhoods of South Austin, Texas, to the very Republican county of Okanogan, Washington. In recent years, these communities have grown far more sharply defined in their political and cultural identities—partly because living in a homogeneous community reinforces one’s existing attitudes, partly because such communities tend to attract like-minded emigrants.

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