Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


From Multi-Valence to Polarity to Fragmentation: Politics and Character in the United States


Sociology Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


Other than the English language, very little else has unified the Untied States as a nation. Character has formed through diverse social, economic, and cultural forces throughout its history to create fundamentally different perceptions of events. Only unusual events of monumental proportions have created any semblance of unity, and then typically in a bifurcated manner, and only temporarily. Using historical analysis, this paper explores the present and future implications of the ongoing economic crisis in conjunction with social and cultural change. A conflict looms as class interests polarize, yet conflict that takes the form of transgressive identity and inclusion, in opposition to normative and hierarchical associations. In other words, class conflict will take the form of identity conflict, consistent with the history of the United States and in contrast to Europe. Collective orientations battle with hierarchical, and need-centered orientations challenge private property, fomented by declining economic opportunity. Today`s cultural rebellion challenges economic exploitation. The paper considers whether and to what extent such rebellion might facilitate structural change in US political-economy, create an alternative or parallel social network, much like evangelical Christianity has done, or be assimilated as many past movements.

Conference Name

Annual Meeting of the Midwest Sociological Society

Conference Location

Chicago, IL

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