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Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Old 10-15-18, 04:42 PM
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Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

I ran across this Atlantic article about political correctness and it made me aware of this study:

Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

I haven't read through the whole study, but I did read through the executive summary and intend to read the rest tonight. The gist of the study is that most Americans are not nearly as divided as the vocal, divisive minorities at the extremes. From the executive summary, this part really hit home:
If we can better comprehend what lies behind our differences, we may prevent this polarization from spiraling out of control. Many Americans today suffer from deep injustices related to their race, sex, religion, sexuality and other facets of their identities. But productive national dialogue about these and other critical issues has reached an impasse, in large part due to the widening gap between the major ideological and partisan perspectives.

The goal of this report is to improve our understanding of this polarization and its underlying causes. It highlights the need to unite Americans of conflicting beliefs and values. These connections create empathy and put people’s opinions and beliefs into a more human context. This report tries to capture that human context by allowing Americans from every position on the political spectrum to speak for themselves.
The Atlantic article focuses on an aspect of the study related to people's perceptions of political correctness and is well worth a read if you want something more concise to pique your interest in the full study. One key quote from the article to whet your appetite:
It turns out that while progressive activists tend to think that only hate speech is a problem, and devoted conservatives tend to think that only political correctness is a problem, a clear majority of all Americans holds a more nuanced point of view: They abhor racism. But they don’t think that the way we now practice political correctness represents a promising way to overcome racial injustice.
The subject of tribalism has come up a lot in discussions on this forum, and the Hidden Tribes study offers a new, interesting, and nuanced perspective on that discussion, so I'd be very interested to hear thoughts from others on the article or the full study.
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Old 10-15-18, 05:01 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

I'll have to read this, but I agree that overall, runaway political correctness has helped create the mess that the US is in now.
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Old 10-15-18, 05:37 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

The problem with the term "political correctness" (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, "hate speech") is that it is such a nebulous phrase that it can mean anything. And people exploit that ambiguity in a disingenuous way to make themselves appear the victim when they get called on blatant bigotry.
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Old 10-15-18, 05:42 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by cultshock View Post
I'll have to read this, but I agree that overall, runaway political correctness has helped create the mess that the US is in now.
From where I stand, I don't see runaway political correctness. I see a handful of extremists who are brought up over and over again by right wing propaganda as evidence of runaway political correctness.

It's like how they used to quote Andrea Dworkin every time the subject of women's rights came up.

I don't see runaway hate speech either. The left is using that as a complementary straw man. They like to find some Republican party ward boss who makes an obnoxious comment and plasters it on the internet as if it were the mainstream Republican view.
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Old 10-15-18, 06:25 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

There is, however, plenty of additional support for the idea that the social views of most Americans are not nearly as neatly divided by age or race as is commonly believed. According to the Pew Research Center, for example, only 26 percent of black Americans consider themselves liberal.
A little surprised it is even this high. African-Americans are largely single issue voters and actually have much less in common with progressives as a group than is often assumed. For starters, they are by far the most religious of the four large ethnic groups. The support gay marriage by 13 points less than white Americans. They are also more pro-life than white Americans, although this is a much closer figure.
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Old 10-15-18, 07:29 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
The problem with the term "political correctness" (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, "hate speech") is that it is such a nebulous phrase that it can mean anything. And people exploit that ambiguity in a disingenuous way to make themselves appear the victim when they get called on blatant bigotry.
And diusgustingly, I've seen it a lot here and elsewhere lately. In TV and movie threads of all things. Can't escape the MAGA folks anywhere these days.
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Old 10-15-18, 08:03 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

This seems like a key factor in the Atlantic piece:
But since the survey question did not define political correctness for respondents, we cannot be sure what, exactly, the 80 percent of Americans who regard it as a problem have in mind.
Excuse my French, but what in the fuck? Why should/would anyone take this thing seriously if they couldn't even define the terms of the debate?

Like... Ask 10 people what it means and you'll get 11 different answers. It's utterly meaningless.

Kefrank... Surely you're not one of those "PC culture has gone mad" folks...


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Old 10-15-18, 09:31 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by Dan View Post
This seems like a key factor in the Atlantic piece:

Excuse my French, but what in the fuck? Why should/would anyone take this thing seriously if they couldn't even define the terms of the debate?

Like... Ask 10 people what it means and you'll get 11 different answers. It's utterly meaningless.

Kefrank... Surely you're not one of those "PC culture has gone mad" folks...

https://youtu.be/x_JCBmY9NGM

https://youtu.be/zADo4kWtOyQ
You should really read the study and consider the methodology before passing judgment. The "political correctness" aspect of the study is a relatively small portion of it and wasn't really my main interest in it, though the Atlantic article is what drew me to it. I don't think the Atlantic article does the study justice in that particular statement that you quoted. Some words from the relevant part of the study:
On both issues, we find a significant gap between the views of the highly ideological wing segments, who are most active in public conversation, and those in the Exhausted Majority. While there may be agreement about the problems with “political correctness,” this phrase is hard to define. On issues ranging from gender and Islam to race and immigration, at least 50 percent of Americans claim there is “pressure to think a certain way.” Even among liberal groups, a significant percentage feels constrained. This pressure is highest regarding Islam, about which fully 66 percent of Americans say they do not feel that it is “acceptable” to voice their opinions. Context matters, though: More than two-thirds of Americans say they feel less inhibited voicing their perspectives when they are among “people like me.”
For what it's worth, I wasn't aligning myself with any particular viewpoint on the political correctness question. What was of more interest to me was the dynamics of the minorities at the extremes, vs. the majority in other parts of the spectrum (on much more than just "political correctness").
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Old 10-15-18, 09:49 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
And diusgustingly, I've seen it a lot here and elsewhere lately. In TV and movie threads of all things. Can't escape the MAGA folks anywhere these days.
Interestingly, both the attitude you're displaying with this statement and the attitude you're attempting to call out in others are what the study aims to argue against. From the conclusion section:
This report aims to inform and support efforts to counter the forces of polarization and tribalism by fostering an understanding of the differences in core beliefs that underpin Americans’ affiliations. If we are to overcome the polarization between opposing groups, greater empathy for the other side is required.
It's worth reading and then taking a step back to consider what it means about how we approach, in particular, political discussion. It is definitely making me reflective at least.
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Old 10-15-18, 11:08 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by kefrank View Post
Interestingly, both the attitude you're displaying with this statement and the attitude you're attempting to call out in others are what the study aims to argue against. From the conclusion section:


It's worth reading and then taking a step back to consider what it means about how we approach, in particular, political discussion. It is definitely making me reflective at least.
Reflective of what? It strikes me as a 160 page version of "I was a centrist, but liberals hurt my feelings, so now I support putting brown people in concentration camps."

I mean, it's all well and good to say we're too polarized. But the solution isn't to compromise by only putting half the brown people in concentration camps. Nor is it to tell liberals to bite their tongues when they hear their president demonizing immigrants, belittling sexual assault victims, and telling black people that they can't be concerned about police violence.

So what should I get out of the paper besides "The people who have deplorable views don't like to be called on the deplorable nature of their views?"
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Old 10-15-18, 11:35 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Reflective of what? It strikes me as a 160 page version of "I was a centrist, but liberals hurt my feelings, so now I support putting brown people in concentration camps."
Huh? The study is not about "centrists." In fact, it argues against the simplistic notion of political centricism:
Yet it would be a mistake to think of the Exhausted Majority merely as a group of political centrists, at least in the way that term is traditionally understood. They do not simply represent a midpoint between the warring tribes of the left and right. They are frustrated with the status quo and the conduct of American politics and public debate. They overwhelmingly believe that the American government is rigged to serve the rich and influential, and they want things to change.
Originally Posted by JasonF
I mean, it's all well and good to say we're too polarized. But the solution isn't to compromise by only putting half the brown people in concentration camps. Nor is it to tell liberals to bite their tongues when they hear their president demonizing immigrants, belittling sexual assault victims, and telling black people that they can't be concerned about police violence.
Where does the study argue that those are solutions?

Originally Posted by JasonF
So what should I get out of the paper besides "The people who have deplorable views don't like to be called on the deplorable nature of their views?"
Well, among other things it also argues that the people who have sanctimonious views don't like to accept the fact that their unapologetic piety is ineffective at reaching the ideologically flexible majority that could actually help them affect they change they desire.

Seriously though, if you read the whole study and that's all you got out of it, I don't think I can offer anything that's going to penetrate your commitment to being dismissive. The study does not seek primarily to challenge your ideology. It seeks to challenge how you approach achieving the ends of that ideology.
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Old 10-15-18, 11:59 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

To be fair, I only read the Atlantic article and skimmed the full study. But what I got from the Atlantic article was a lot of "bite your tongue when you see someone who's acting bigoted, because if you don't treat them with kid gloves, they'll vote for Trump out of spite."

I'll try to make time to read the study itself. Thank you for posting it.
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Old 10-16-18, 12:23 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
To be fair, I only read the Atlantic article and skimmed the full study. But what I got from the Atlantic article was a lot of "bite your tongue when you see someone who's acting bigoted, because if you don't treat them with kid gloves, they'll vote for Trump out of spite."

I'll try to make time to read the study itself. Thank you for posting it.
It's cool. Sorry that I got a little snarky. You really may not get much out of the full study and that's ok - I'm sure it won't be convincing for everyone. That said, I do think it at least offers some interesting things to consider about the spectrum of American viewpoints that refutes the relatively simplistic narratives that seem to have so much momentum on social media (and even media in general).

My reading of the Atlantic article wasn't quite as cynical as yours. I don't think it argues that you should bite your tongue to keep others from voting for Trump out of spite. I think it argues that it might be more effective to make good faith efforts to dialog and understand what's behind views that express some level of bigotry in order to reach those who are actually reachable.
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Old 10-16-18, 08:36 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
To be fair, I only read the Atlantic article and skimmed the full study. But what I got from the Atlantic article was a lot of "bite your tongue when you see someone who's acting bigoted, because if you don't treat them with kid gloves, they'll vote for Trump out of spite."
You didn't miss anything. On a high level I get the points. We definitely will never get anywhere in this political landscape if we don't try and see where the other side is coming from and work together when appropriate.

But sorry, as I have posted before (in other threads), bigotry and misogyny are only characterized as political by those looking to be bigots and misogynists. They want people to believe the "there are great people on both sides" bullshit. And that's what it is... complete bullshit.
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Old 10-16-18, 08:46 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
A little surprised it is even this high. African-Americans are largely single issue voters and actually have much less in common with progressives as a group than is often assumed. For starters, they are by far the most religious of the four large ethnic groups. The support gay marriage by 13 points less than white Americans. They are also more pro-life than white Americans, although this is a much closer figure.
im not surprised. Trust me, you would be surprised on how many minorities in general support Republican views.

from the parents that i have met with and such, there is a feeling now more than ever of being used by both parties just for votes. Yet their lives dont change.

kind of sad really.
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Old 10-16-18, 08:57 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
You didn't miss anything. On a high level I get the points. We definitely will never get anywhere in this political landscape if we don't try and see where the other side is coming from and work together when appropriate.

But sorry, as I have posted before (in other threads), bigotry and misogyny are only characterized as political by those looking to be bigots and misogynists. They want people to believe the "there are great people on both sides" bullshit. And that's what it is... complete bullshit.
So do you dismiss the notion from the study that there is nuance to be explored on these issues with people in the "Exhausted Majority"? To quote the study:
The views of the Exhausted Majority often do not represent a midpoint between the wings, but they differ from one issue to the next. For example, in stark contrast to Devoted Conservatives, about 75 percent of them believe that problems of sexism are somewhat serious in America today, and on the issue of abortion, around two thirds support a pro-choice over a pro-life stance. Similarly, they support same-sex marriage (64 percent) and believe that accepting transgender people is the moral thing to do (66 percent). On the other hand, in contrast to the Progressive Activists, around half of this group believes that people are overly sensitive about sex and gender issues, that changes in America’s views on marriage and sex are causing a decline in family values, and that too many things are labelled as sexual harassment in the workplace.
Is it your contention that all of those people (some 67% of Americans according to the study) are looking to be bigots and misogynists and should be dismissed out of hand?

Edited to add: Can you show me where the study pushes a "great people on both sides" agenda? In fact, can you show me where it passes judgment on any of the factions along the spectrum that it identifies?
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Old 10-16-18, 09:07 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by kefrank View Post
So do you dismiss the notion from the study that there is nuance to be explored on these issues with people in the "Exhausted Majority"? To quote the study:

Is it your contention that all of those people (some 67% of Americans according to the study) are looking to be bigots and misogynists and should be dismissed out of hand?
Well for one, coming up with a term like "Exhausted Majority" says a lot to me, and none of it being anything good.

As an example, I'm not going to give a racial bigot a pass because they have come to realize that people are born gay/transsexual. Putting a bunch of numbers out there doesn't change the issue that certain beliefs are immoral and wrong, and looking to make them acceptable by then claiming everybody else is just being too PC.
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Old 10-16-18, 09:22 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
Well for one, coming up with a term like "Exhausted Majority" says a lot to me, and none of it being anything good.
What does it say to you?

As an example, I'm not going to give a racial bigot a pass because they have come to realize that people are born gay/transsexual. Putting a bunch of numbers out there doesn't change the issue that certain beliefs are immoral and wrong, and looking to make them acceptable by then claiming everybody else is just being too PC.
Again, where does the study look to make immoral beliefs acceptable?
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Old 10-16-18, 09:41 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by kefrank View Post
What does it say to you?
That somebody was looking for a way to make bigots seem like the victims.


Again, where does the study look to make immoral beliefs acceptable?
Again, by trying to cover the fact that people hold bigoted beliefs by going on about what else they believe. We will have to agree to disagree if you don't see bigotry and misogyny as deal breakers no matter where else they fall. And that includes many bigots I have met that vote democrat because they are in a union.

Last edited by hdnmickey; 10-16-18 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 10-16-18, 09:54 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
That they somebody was looking for a way to make bigots seem like the victims.

Again, by trying to cover the fact that people hold bigoted beliefs by going on about what else they believe. We will have to agree to disagree if you don't see bigotry and misogyny as deal breakers no matter where else they fall. And that includes many bigots I have met that vote democrat because they are in a union.
It's interesting to me that you are assigning conclusions to the study that it does not actually assert. This seems to be the very dynamics at play that the study explores.

If you'll indulge me, let's look at this excerpt of the conclusion section of the study:
Combating us-versus-them tribalism and polarization may be one of the greatest social and political challenges of the digital age. As much as building a just and democratic society requires thousands of initiatives large and small, so does defending one from these threats. It may well take a generation, but these efforts start with understanding how we can effectively counter this polarization.

This report is not intended to provide a blueprint for those efforts, but it shows how much such a blueprint is needed. We hope that by building on the insights in this report:
–– Political candidates can speak to the values that unify the nation with a larger “we,” instead of mobilizing their base while polarizing the country.
–– Activists and advocates can broaden their appeals to the underlying values of those they don’t usually reach.
–– Philanthropists can invest creatively in the thousand points of light that can show us a way forward to counter polarization and develop robust evaluation measures to prove impact.
–– Creative artists and media can spotlight the extraordinary ways in which Americans in local communities build bridges and not walls, every day.
–– Technology companies can turn their vast resources and analytical tools to creating platforms and systems that help do the hard work of bringing people together, rather than the easy work of magnifying outrage in echo chambers and filter bubbles.
–– Leaders in government, business and nonprofits can apply the lens of integration to every context where Americans are brought together; from schooling and town planning to office layouts and volunteer activities, creating spaces that connect people together across the lines of difference.
Which of those hopes do you feel are wrong, or at least flawed? If I'm reading you correctly (and forgive me if I'm not), you believe that as an advocate for minorities and women, there is no value in broadening your appeals to the underlying values of those you don't usually reach. If that's an accurate reading, why not? Do you have some other research to suggest this wouldn't be effective?
I also get the sense that you believe "magnifying outrage" is a good way to affect change? Is that working for you personally? Do you have some research that shows it is effective or is it just cathartic?
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Old 10-16-18, 10:11 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by kefrank View Post
I also get the sense that you believe "magnifying outrage" is a good way to affect change? Is that working for you personally?
Magnifying outrage? If you believe that is what is going on we are definitely at the agree to disagree stage.
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Old 10-16-18, 10:26 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

This thread is proving the study to be accurate.
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Old 10-16-18, 10:29 AM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
This thread is proving the study to be accurate.
Yeah, this. We're fucked.
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Old 10-16-18, 12:21 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
Magnifying outrage? If you believe that is what is going on we are definitely at the agree to disagree stage.
If my sense is wrong, tell me why. You've already expressed your justified outrage over misogyny and bigotry. How do you channel that outrage?

And why not answer my first question about broadening your appeals? Do you want to affect change or not? What do you believe is the best way to accomplish that change and why?
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Old 10-16-18, 12:49 PM
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Re: Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Originally Posted by kefrank View Post
And why not answer my first question about broadening your appeals? Do you want to affect change or not? What do you believe is the best way to accomplish that change and why?
I'm more than willing, as are most people, to discuss actual political differences with the political opposition. Did it all the time when I identified as a Republican before they became the Christian extremist's puppet, and recently, the party of bigotry. There are legitimate discussions to be had around issues like education, social programs, and tax reform. But I have no interest in discussing why people are bigot/misogynists or making excuses for them.
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