Is America bitterly divided? Has America lost its traditional
values? Many politicians and religious leaders believe so, as do
the majority of Americans, based on public opinion polls taken over
the past several years. But is this crisis of values real?
This book explores the moral terrain of America today, analyzing
the widely held perception that the nation is in moral decline. It
looks at the question from a variety of angles, examining
traditional values, secular values, religious values, family
values, economic values, and others. Using unique data from the
World Values Surveys, the largest systematic attempt ever made to
document attitudes, values, and beliefs around the world, this book
systematically evaluates the perceived crisis of values by
comparing America's values with those of over 60 other nations.
The results are surprising. The evidence shows overwhelmingly
that America has not lost its traditional values, that the nation
compares favorably with most other societies, and that the culture
war is largely a myth.
The gap between reality and perception does not represent mass
ignorance of the facts or an overblown moral panic, Baker contends.
Rather, the widespread perception of a crisis of values is a real
and legitimate interpretation of life in a society that is in the
middle of a fundamental transformation and that contains growing
cultural contradictions. Instead of posing a problem, the author
argues, this crisis rhetoric serves the valuable social function of
reminding us of what it means to be American. As such, it preserves
the ideological foundation of the nation.
Subjects: Sociology, Political Science
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