Is the United States a nation of materialistic loners whose politics are dictated by ethnic, racial, religious, or sexual identities? This is what America has become in the eyes of many commentators. Americans seem to fear that their society is breaking apart but how accurate is this portrayal and how justified is the fear? Introducing a balanced viewpoint into this intense debate, John Hall and Charles Lindholm demonstrate that such alarm is unfounded. Here they explore the institutional structures of American society, emphasizing its ability to accommodate difference and diffuse conflict. The culture, too, comes under scrutiny: influenced by Calvinistic beliefs, Americans place faith in the individual but demand high moral commitment to the community Broad in scope and ambition, this short book draws a realistic portrait of a society that is among the most powerful and stable in the world, yet is perennially shaken by self-doubt.
Concern over the cohesiveness of American society, Hall and Lindholm argue, is actually a product of a shared cultural belief in human distinctiveness and equality. They find that this shared belief parad