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The "Official English" Movement and the Symbolic Politics of Language in the United States

Jack Citrin, Beth Reingold, Evelyn Walters and Donald P. Green
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 535-559
DOI: 10.2307/448703
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/448703
Page Count: 25
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Abstract

Language rights has emerged as a controversial issue in both national and state politics. In a context of rising immigration, the demands of linguistic minorities that the educational system and other government agencies provide services in their native tongue have provoked an opposition movement seeking to designate English the official language of the United States. This paper tracks the results of this effort at the state level, identifying the conditions underlying success. It also analyzes public opinion on language issues, concluding that the widespread support for the primacy of English is based largely on longstanding symbolic predispositions.

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