New Stuff Tuesday – November 30

Us Against Them

Us Against Them:
Ethnocentric Foundations of American Opinion
by Donald Kinder & Cindy Kam
GN560 .U6 K56 2010
New Book Island, 2nd floor

When I saw the title of this week’s featured book, I thought that it would perfectly highlight the diversity events that are taking place this week. [If you have not, check out This is OUR House for more information on what’s going on.]

Kinder and Kam, professors at University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University, respectively, delve into ethnocentrism, defined in the introduction as “the technical name for this view of things in which one’s own group is the center of everything.”1 They assert that humans can’t help but divide individuals into groups with labels, which affects one’s worldview and their attitudes on all kinds of issues. The authors investigate the theories behind ethnocentrism and then address research studies into specific dichotomous [or polychotomous in such cases] cases, such as American v non-American, men v women, straight v gay, among others. If you’re interested in the psychology behind why people pit themselves against the rest of the world, this is the book for you.

Also noteworthy, this text serves as a great starting point on the subject – there’s thirty pages of references for you to check for further research.

1 William Graham Sumner, prominent researcher and professor at Yale, invented the term in the early 1900s.

About kyle

I'm the library guy. No, seriously, I'm the only male reference & instruction librarian. I also have the pleasure of serving several campus committees, the Academic Staff Assembly and the Chancellor's Task Force on LGBT Issues, among others.
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One Response to New Stuff Tuesday – November 30

  1. Infovoyeur says:

    Good, but beyond stereotypes, do “sociotypes” also exist? Meaning, “trait(s)shared Y % by X % of a group more than by other groups or humans in general.” And does this matter?

    Is “Black athletic prowess” a stereotype? But Africana men claimed 13 out of 20 places in Boston Marathon. And 80% of players in N.B.A. playoffs. However, apparently of the dozens of sports played worldwide, they excel thus in only three: basketball, football, track-&-field.

    Baseball: of 700 men in major leagues, 86 come from Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, total population 11 million.

    Asians (perhaps other races) respond differently to certain medicines etc. than others. (Useful for medicine to know, I’d say.)

    Jews are 3% of U.S.A. population but gained 25% of USA Nobel science prizes, half of 20cent. world chess champions, similar for CEOs of organizations, members of Ivy League universities.

    And, men and women–well, you get the idea.

    Maybe the challenge is to keep open to the free inquiry of seeing true differences, “diversities,” without moralizing or descending into stereotype as justifiction for mistreatment etc. Does multiculturalism etc. downplay actual diversity in favor of steamroller egalitarianism? People are equal in value (those not harmful to society), but not in identity–and cultures are not equal to each other in type or description. In value? That becomes subjective.

    It’s tricky, but to be non-hesitant to investigate sociotypes might be helpful at times.

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