Gwen's Reviews > Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics

Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics by Marc J. Hetherington
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Jan 02, 10

Read in December, 2009

Interesting look at how authoritarianism--which they define as a preference for order and a discomfort with change or difference--structures preferences on a variety of political issues (especially gay rights, immigration, and foreign policy). As these issues have become more important in American politics in the last few years, opinions have become more divergent because, the authors argue, opinions are highly linked to authoritarianism. Not only do individuals have different opinions, but they are increasingly unable to comprehend or respect other positions. Exploiting these issues has broken down the traditional party alignments that emerged after the New Deal.

I did have some methodological quibbles here and there, but the underlying premise seems worthy of study and they use a lot of data to illustrate their points. And apparently, based on the questions used to categorize people, I have an extremely high "need for cognition."
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