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American Identity and Attitudes toward Official-English Policies

Deborah J. Schildkraut
Political Psychology
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 469-499
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3792322
Page Count: 31
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
American Identity and Attitudes toward Official-English Policies
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Abstract

This article analyzes the relationship between each of three conceptions of American identity-liberalism, civic republicanism, and ethnoculturalism-and support for declaring English the official language and printing election ballots only in English. Focus group discussions showed that these conceptions provide a common means of discourse for talking about language conflicts and ethnic change, and that the civic republican conception of American identity is a particularly important factor in the opinion formation process. Although all three conceptions help people to decide whether they think English should be the official language, they are not consistently associated with support for or opposition to restrictive language policies. How individuals interpret these images of national identity also shapes the direction of their preferences.

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