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Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  300 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Updated in a new 3rd edition and part of the "Great Questions in Politics" series, "Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America" combines polling data with a compelling narrative to debunk commonly-believed myths about American politics--particularly the claim that Americans are deeply divided in their fundamental political views.
Authored by one of the most respected pol
Paperback, Third Edition, 275 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Longman (first published July 14th 2004)
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Mar 03, 2016 Nate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly boring: at one point the author recites the data tables that he has printed on the page.

The other problem with this book is his hypothesis sets out to prove something we already know is true: media outlets sensationalize small contrasts to get headlines and attract viewers. Duh.

The book would have been more interesting if his slant would have tried to blame the audience for continuing to click on nonsense, rather than the media who is only providing them with what they desire.
Morris Fiorina's Culture War pushes back on the idea that America is an intensly divided political state composed of blue states where liberals dominate and red states where conservatives dominate. Instead, he parses data on a variety of issues to attempt to demonstrate that most Americans still belong in the middle of the political spectrum, and the views of "red" and "blue" America are not truly that divergent.

The books makes some good arguments, but in the end, I have to say that it didn't fu
Dan Smee
Dec 18, 2010 Dan Smee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The “culture war” rhetoric recently popularized by some in the media polarizes and stereotypes Americans. Blue states are snobs. Red states are unsophisticated working class stiffs. But is such polarization real, or is it the figment of “politicos” in the media who have found a catchy sound bite? Media and the politic elite appear to find such divides useful to their purposes, i.e., to be able to play up to their base. Americans are divided in real ways across issues of abortion, gun control, an ...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 21, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Red states versus blue states. We have all heard of the great divide in the United States for so long that it has become something close to "received wisdom." This thin little book, authored by the well-respected Morris Fiorina (with the assistance of Samuel Abrams and Jeremy Pope), questions this widely held view of a culture war raging in the United States.

Fiorina, for those readers who are familiar with his academic research, is a skilled researcher, well schooled in statistics. It is to his
Jun 26, 2012 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grad-school
Fiorina makes some interesting, new-ish points attempting to disprove that there is a culture war in the US. While I agree that perhaps "culture war" is a bit dramatic, he did not convince me that there is not, in fact, great disagreement among a sizable portion of Americans. Maybe it is "only" 20% or so, but that is still a lot of people and quite meaningful, especially if the folks who are interested enough in voting in primaries have quite different views, then the candidates will end up with ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: gov-pols
This was a good read. It wasn't overly dry, though it did have its occasional moments. Like the information and proofs that Fiorina brought to the thesis/argument. I would recommend this book to anyone whom has an interest in politics/ government, and media/main stream perspectives. This work helped to illustrate one of the many takes on current American politics. The thesis was logical and didn't seem to overly push the limits. Remaining neutral in the discussion of the proposed 'culture war' h ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's substantial empirical evidence in this book to suggest that the political polarization that gets so much attention in the media is an illusion -- so far as everyday people are concerned. True, there is deep polarization among the political elites, but not so much at all among everyone else -- if Fiorina's use of the longitudinal studies (General Social Survey and National Election Studies) is credible. He isn't the only researcher saying this either. It makes me wonder if we aren't still ...more
Jul 12, 2016 E rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this in the early 2000s in college and recall that even then I found the arguments less than persuasive. Having reread this book in the age of a stonewalling do-nothing Congress, gun-toting anti-government lunatics, and the rise of Drumpf, I am even less convinced than ever that this country isn't deeply, possibly fatally, polarized.
It would be interesting to read a new edition, with new research, to see if Fiorina still holds to his thesis in light of 2016's grim reality.
May 01, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it
Fiorina's thesis is that political parties, not citizens, are increasingly polarized. He discusses how the two major political parties have moved to the left and right and provides arguments on what this all means for democracy. The updated version includes the 2008 election and how it does or does not fit into his thesis.
Feb 08, 2016 Brynlee rated it really liked it
Interesting and very well researched analysis of the polarization (or lack thereof) of the American electorate. I would be interested to see how some of the ideas have changed or how the data might be different if it reflected elections more recent than 2004 as well as the increased importance of social media in determining partisanship.
Laura Petto
reading the third edition, though... Goodreads doesn't seem to have it!

Hmmm... hard to say whether or not I liked this book. I agree with Fiorina that the "Culture War" is overemphasized, but I dislike his solutions.
Nov 09, 2008 Kylo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didnt-finish
Disappointing -- Fiorina seems content to debunk the crude red-state/blue-state with an endless array of statistics, never actually putting forward a more sophisticated analysis. I bailed after a hundred pages or so.
Ricks Eric
Fiorina postulates and interesting theory regarding the political activity of Americans, and how americans are truly not as polarized as the media makes us out to be.

This is a quick and interesting read.
Joan Gartner
Very informative for the first few chapters however after that the author just keeps trying to prove his point,which becomes very tedious.
Apr 06, 2010 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You want to look at some data to see if we're really in a Culture War? This book will help tremendously...
Frank Ly
Jan 23, 2015 Frank Ly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
Very informative.
Definitely altered some opinions about American polarization. An updated version would be nice, because a lot has changed in the political climate since 2004/2008.
Feb 11, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read, lots of data from all sorts of sources, and the answer is not what you might think it is!
May 08, 2011 Tonia rated it it was amazing
A MUST READ!! Seriously. Even if you don't subscribe to mainstream political ideologies, this is a well researched account of what America REALLY believes.
Sep 08, 2008 hillary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
everyone should read this book. the information presented is valid and reliable, the conclusions drawn are linear and realistic... it's so interesting.
Robert Williamson
Compelling argument, although it does not address recent increases in partisanship among politicians and its possible repercussions.
Jan 30, 2008 I rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political science majors, political entheusiasts
There is no left or right America, but, rather, a moderate one. Read this book to find out how media incorrectly portrays America as 'red' or 'blue' and how we are really 'purple,' or, in between.
Sep 28, 2008 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Important book, but he comes to questionable conclusions. America is split, 45/45. We'll see how the 10% vote in 2008.
Steven Macneil
Steven Macneil rated it it was amazing
Feb 21, 2011
Jack Solano
Jack Solano rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2013
Christopher rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2008
Mattbriggs rated it it was ok
Jun 16, 2015
Paige rated it liked it
Apr 20, 2012
Rob rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2016
Patrick Messmer
Patrick Messmer rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2013
Thomas rated it really liked it
Sep 20, 2010
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