Disparate Boundaries of the American Creed

Manuscript in Preparation

By Keitaro Okura and Sakeef M. Karim


What does it mean to be an American? Questions about who is included—or excluded— in articulations of the American creed are fiercely contested in the United States in the face of rapid demographic changes and heightened political polarization. In this study, we empirically interrogate these questions by using latent class regressions to analyze conjoint data probing the Americanness of hypothetical citizens. In doing so, we find five cultural logics that Americans use to define the contours of U.S. national membership and adjudicate the Americanness of their compatriots. These symbolic boundaries (i) defy traditional theoretical treatments that sort Americans into cultural segments that either endorse ethnoculturalism or emphasize civic-oriented conditions for inclusion in the nation; and (ii) cut across sociodemographic lines, suggesting that a diverse group of Americans endorse highly divergent (if not conflicting) visions of nationhood. In a final empirical step, we show how the five cultural logics uncovered in our analysis pattern attitudes towards expansionist immigration policy in uneven ways across racial lines. Taken together, our study offers a comprehensive overview of how Americans sketch the boundaries of nationhood in the early 21st century.

Posted on:
May 1, 2024
1 minute read, 186 words
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