Coping with Cultural and Racial Diversity in Urban America

By Wallace E. Lambert; Donald M. Taylor | Go to book overview

2
Methodological Approach

As the planning of the present study got underway, it was clear to us that there were at least two conflicting evaluations and interpretations of each of the key issues to be dealt with (i.e., multiculturalism, cultural diversity, "appropriate" behavior for immigrants and other minority groups, ways to safeguard national unity, and ways to reduce intergroup hostilities). Although no final answers are available for any of the theoretical debates involved, the debates are so socially important that systematic research seemed to us to be the mandatory next step.

Our basic aim was to solicit views on these key issues from a diverse array of American ethnic groups, all living in one urban center, and to do so in such a way that we could then construct a composite sketch of the underlying network of feelings, attitudes and beliefs that permeate life in multicultural settings in the United States. This of course is a very tall order. We wanted in particular the views of a large silent majority who are not usually surveyed--adults in the community who are of lower working- class backgrounds and whose ethnicity is obvious. With that as a base, their views could then be compared with those of more established mainstream whites and blacks, some from the same working-class backgrounds and neighborhoods, and others from more privileged socioeconomic backgrounds.

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