1932

Abstract

This review examines empirical research about American national identity. It focuses on the social and political causes and consequences of () how people define what being American means and () their degree of attachment to being American. It explains why scholars increasingly view American identity as a social identity and reviews arguments for why political scientists should investigate American identity as both an independent and a dependent variable. Existing research documents a high degree of consensus across demographic groups regarding how American identity is defined. It also reveals both beneficial and harmful consequences of people strongly identifying as American. Empirical inquiries of American identity are motivated by demographic trends, especially the rise in immigration-driven diversity, but they are also deeply grounded in historical and philosophical assessments of the nature of American identity, and such scholarship is also discussed throughout the review.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-polisci-080812-144642
2014-05-11
2024-06-23
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/polisci/17/1/annurev-polisci-080812-144642.html?itemId=/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-polisci-080812-144642&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

Literature Cited

  1. Abdelal R, Herrera YM, Johnston AI, McDermott R. 2006. Identity as a variable. Perspect. Polit. 4:695–711 [Google Scholar]
  2. Alba RD, Nee V. 2003. Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  3. Ashburn-Nardo L, Livingston R, Waytz J. 2011. Implicit bias: a better metric for racial progress?. The Obamas and a (Post)Racial America? G Parks, M Hughey 30–44 New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  4. Bailyn B. 1967. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  5. Banning L. 1986. Jeffersonian ideology revisited: liberal and classical ideas in the new American republic. William Mary Q. 43:3–19 [Google Scholar]
  6. Barrington L, Herron E, Silver BD. 2003. The motherland is calling: views of homeland among Russians in the near abroad. World Polit. 55:290–313 [Google Scholar]
  7. Branscombe NR, Ellemers N, Spears R, Doosje B. 1999a. The context and content of social identity threat. Social Identity: Context, Commitment, Content N Ellemers, R Spears, B Doosje 35–58 Oxford, UK: Blackwell [Google Scholar]
  8. Branscombe NR, Schmitt MT, Harvey RD. 1999b. Perceiving pervasive discrimination among African Americans: implications for group identification and well-being. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 77:135–49 [Google Scholar]
  9. Brubaker R, Cooper F. 2000. Beyond “identity”. Theory Soc. 29:1–47 [Google Scholar]
  10. Byrne J. 2011. National identity and attitudes towards immigrants in a “multicreedal” America. Polit. Policy 39:485–514 [Google Scholar]
  11. CBS News, New York Times 2011. New York Times/CBS News poll. May. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/05/us/politics/20110505_POLL_BIN_LADEN.html?ref=politics [Google Scholar]
  12. Cheryan S, Monin B. 2005. “Where are you really from?”: Asian Americans and identity denial. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 89:717–30 [Google Scholar]
  13. Citrin J, Lerman A, Murakami M, Pearson K. 2007. Testing Huntington: Is Hispanic immigration a threat to American identity?. Perspect. Polit. 5:31–48 [Google Scholar]
  14. Citrin J, Reingold B, Green DP. 1990. American identity and the politics of ethnic change. J. Polit. 52:1124–54 [Google Scholar]
  15. Citrin J, Wong C, Duff B. 2001. The meaning of American national identity. Social Identity, Intergroup Conflict, and Conflict Resolution R Ashmore, L Jussim, D Wilder 71–100 New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  16. Citrin J, Wright M. 2009. Defining the circle of we: American identity and immigration policy. Forum 7:1–20 [Google Scholar]
  17. Dahl R. 1998. On Democracy New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  18. de Figueiredo R Jr, Elkins Z. 2003. Are patriots bigots? An inquiry into the vices of in-group pride. Am. J. Polit. Sci. 47:171–88 [Google Scholar]
  19. Devos T, Banaji MR. 2005. American = white?. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 88:447–66 [Google Scholar]
  20. Devos T, Ma DS. 2008. Is Kate Winslet more American than Lucy Liu? The impact of construal processes on the implicit ascription of a national identity. Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 47:191–215 [Google Scholar]
  21. Devos T, Ma DS. 2013. How “American” is Barack Obama? The role of national identity in a historic bid for the White House. J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 43:214–26 [Google Scholar]
  22. Ditonto TM, Lau RR, Sears DO. 2013. AMPing racial attitudes: Comparing the power of explicit and implicit racism measures in 2008. Polit. Psychol. 34:487–510 [Google Scholar]
  23. Dovidio J, Morris W. 1975. Effects of stress and commonality of fate on helping behavior. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 31:145–49 [Google Scholar]
  24. Druckman D. 1994. Nationalism, patriotism and group loyalty: a social psychological perspective. Int. Stud. Q. 38:43–68 [Google Scholar]
  25. Eck D. 2001. A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation. New York: HarperCollins [Google Scholar]
  26. Edgell P, Gerteis J, Hartmann D. 2006. Atheists as “other”: moral boundaries and cultural membership in American society. Am. Sociol. Rev. 71:211–34 [Google Scholar]
  27. Elkins Z, Sides J. 2007. Can institutions build unity in multiethnic states?. Am. Polit. Sci. Rev. 101:693–708 [Google Scholar]
  28. Flippen AR, Hornstein HA, Siegal WE, Weitzman EA. 1996. A comparison of similarity and interdependence as triggers for in-group formation. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 22:882–93 [Google Scholar]
  29. Fraga LR, Garcia JA, Hero RE, Jones-Correa M, Martinez-Ebers V, Segura GM. 2006. Latino National Survey (LNS) Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-Univ. Consort. Polit. Soc. Res doi: 10.3886/ICPSR20862 [Google Scholar]
  30. Fraga LR, Garcia JA, Hero RE, Jones-Correa M, Martinez-Ebers V, Segura GM. 2012. Latinos in the New Millennium: An Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences New York: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  31. Gaertner S, Dovidio J. 2000. Reducing Intergroup Bias: The Common Ingroup Identity Model Philadelphia: Psychology [Google Scholar]
  32. García Bedolla L. 2005. Fluid Borders: Latino Power, Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  33. Glazer N. 1997. We Are All Multiculturalists Now Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  34. Grieco EM, Acosta YD, de la Cruz GP, Gambino C, Gryn T. et al. 2012. The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2010. Rep. ACS-19 Washington, DC: US Census Bur http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/acs-19.pdf [Google Scholar]
  35. Gutmann A. 2003. Identity in Democracy Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  36. Hartz L. 1955. The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. 1st ed. [Google Scholar]
  37. Hayden S, Jackson T, Guydish J. 1984. Helping behavior of females: effects of stress and commonality of fate. J. Psychol. 117:233–7 [Google Scholar]
  38. Heclo H. 2007. Christianity and American Democracy Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  39. Herrmann RK, Isernia P, Segatti P. 2009. Attachment to the nation and international relations: dimensions of identity and their relationship to war and peace. Polit. Psychol. 30:721–54 [Google Scholar]
  40. Higham J. 1993. Multiculturalism and universalism: a history and critique. Am. Q. 45:195–219 [Google Scholar]
  41. Hollinger DA. 1995. Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism New York: Basic [Google Scholar]
  42. Huddy L, Khatib N. 2007. American patriotism, national identity, and political involvement. Am. J. Polit. Sci. 51:63–77 [Google Scholar]
  43. Humes KR, Jones NA, Ramirez RR. 2011. Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010. Rep. C2010BR-02 Washington, DC: US Census Bur http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf [Google Scholar]
  44. Huntington SP. 2004. Who Are We? The Challenges to America's Identity New York: Simon & Schuster [Google Scholar]
  45. Huo YJ, Molina LE. 2006. Is pluralism a viable model of diversity? The benefits and limits of subgroup respect. Group Process. Intergroup Relat. 9:359–76 [Google Scholar]
  46. Jacobs CM, Theiss-Morse E. 2013. Belonging in a “Christian nation”: The explicit and implicit associations between religion and national group membership. Polit. Religion 6:373–401 [Google Scholar]
  47. Jiménez T. 2010. Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Immigration, and Identity Berkeley: Univ. Calif. Press [Google Scholar]
  48. Kalkan KO, Layman G, Uslaner E. 2009. “Bands of others”? Attitudes toward Muslims in contemporary American society. J. Polit. 71:847–62 [Google Scholar]
  49. Kallen HM. 1998 (1924). Culture and Democracy in the United States New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction [Google Scholar]
  50. Kasinitz P, Mollenkopf J, Waters MC. 2010. Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age New York: Russell Sage [Google Scholar]
  51. Kymlicka W. 1995. Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  52. Lien P, Conway MM, Wong J. 2004. The Politics of Asian Americans: Diversity and Community New York: Routledge [Google Scholar]
  53. Mason A. 1999. Political community, liberal-nationalism, and the ethics of assimilation. Ethics 109:261–86 [Google Scholar]
  54. Massey D, Sanchez RM. 2010. Brokered Boundaries: Creating Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times New York: Russell Sage [Google Scholar]
  55. Masuoka N, Junn J. 2013. The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion, and Immigration Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  56. McClain P, Johnson Carew J, Walton E, Watts C. 2009. Group membership, group identity, and group consciousness: measures of racial identity in American politics. Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 12:471–85 [Google Scholar]
  57. McDaniel EL, Nooruddin I, Shortle A. 2008. Proud to be an American: how national pride affects visions of national identity Work. Pap. [Google Scholar]
  58. Medrano JD, Gutiérrez P. 2001. Nested identities: national and European identity in Spain. Ethn. Racial Stud. 24:753–78 [Google Scholar]
  59. Merino S. 2010. Religious diversity in a “Christian nation”: the effects of theological exclusivity and interreligious contact on the acceptance of religious diversity. J. Sci. Study Relig. 49:231–46 [Google Scholar]
  60. Meyerson H. 2006. New immigrants teach an old lesson. Washington Post March 29 [Google Scholar]
  61. Miller A, Gurin P, Gurin G, Malanchuk O. 1981. Group consciousness and political participation. Am. J. Polit. Sci. 25:494–511 [Google Scholar]
  62. Miller D. 2008. Immigrants, nations, and citizenship. J. Polit. Philos. 16:371–90 [Google Scholar]
  63. Mills CW. 1997. The Racial Contract Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  64. Myrdal G. 1944. An American Dilemma New York: McGraw-Hill [Google Scholar]
  65. Parker C. 2010. Symbolic versus blind patriotism: distinction without difference?. Polit. Res. Q. 63:97–114 [Google Scholar]
  66. Paxton P, Mughan A. 2006. What's to fear from immigrants? Creating an assimilationist threat scale. Polit. Psychol. 27:549–68 [Google Scholar]
  67. Pearson K, Citrin J. 2006. The political assimilation of the fourth wave. Transforming Politics, Transforming America T Lee, SK Ramakrishnan, R Ramirez 217–42 Charlottesville: Univ. Virginia Press [Google Scholar]
  68. Pérez E. 2010. Explicit evidence on the import of implicit attitudes: the IAT and immigration policy judgments. Polit. Behav. 32:517–45 [Google Scholar]
  69. Pew Forum Relig. Public Life 2009. A Religious Portrait of African Americans. Washington, DC: Pew Forum Relig. Public Life [Google Scholar]
  70. Pew Forum Relig. Public Life 2012. “Nones” On the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Has No Religious Affiliation. Washington, DC: Pew Forum Relig. Public Life [Google Scholar]
  71. Pew Hisp. Cent 2007. Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion. Washington, DC: Pew Hisp. Cent. [Google Scholar]
  72. Pew Res. Cent 2012. The Rise of Asian Americans. Washington, DC: Pew Res. Cent. [Google Scholar]
  73. Pichler F. 2008. Social-structural differences in identification with Europe. Perspect. Eur. Polit. Soc. 9:381–96 [Google Scholar]
  74. Pickett C, Brewer M. 2005. The role of exclusion in maintaining ingroup inclusion. The Social Psychology of Inclusion and Exclusion D Abrams, M Hogg, J Marques 89–112 New York, NY: Psychology Press [Google Scholar]
  75. Pocock JA. 1965. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  76. Portes A, Rumbaut RG. 2001. Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation Berkeley: University of California Press [Google Scholar]
  77. Princeton Surv. Res. Assoc 2011. Pew Research Center Poll: 2011 Political Typology Survey. March. Storrs, CT: Roper Cent. Public Opin. Res. [Google Scholar]
  78. Princeton Surv. Res. Assoc 2012. Pew Research Center Poll: Values Survey. April. Storrs, CT: Roper Cent. Public Opin. Res. [Google Scholar]
  79. Ramakrishnan SK, Junn J, Lee T, Wong J. 2008. National Asian American Survey, 2008 ICPSR31481-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-Univ. Consort. Polit. Soc. Res. [Google Scholar]
  80. Read JG. 2008. Discrimination and identity formation in a post-9/11 era. Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects A Jamal, N Naber 305–17 Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  81. Reeskens T, Wright M. 2012. Nationalism and the cohesive society: a multilevel analysis of the interplay among diversity, national identity, and social capital across 27 European societies. Comp. Polit. Stud. 46:153–81 [Google Scholar]
  82. Sandel MJ. 1996. Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy Cambridge, MA: Belknap [Google Scholar]
  83. Schatz R, Staub E, Lavine H. 1999. On the varieties of national attachment: blind versus constructive patriotism. Polit. Psychol. 20:151–74 [Google Scholar]
  84. Schildkraut DJ. 2005a. Press One for English: Language Policy, Public Opinion, and American Identity Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  85. Schildkraut DJ. 2005b. The rise and fall of political engagement among Latinos: the role of identity and perceptions of discrimination. Polit. Behav. 27:285–312 [Google Scholar]
  86. Schildkraut DJ. 2011a. Americanism in the Twenty-First Century: Public Opinion in the Age of Immigration New York: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  87. Schildkraut DJ. 2011b. Nationalism and national identity in the United States. See Schwartz et al. 2011 845–65
  88. Schildkraut DJ. 2013. Which birds of a feather flock together? Assessing attitudes about descriptive representation among Latinos and Asian Americans. Am. Polit. Res. 41:699–729 [Google Scholar]
  89. Schildkraut DJ, Grosse A. 2010. 21st Century Americanism: Nationally Representative Survey of the United States Population, 2004 Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-Univ. Consort. Polit. Soc. Res. http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/studies/27601 [Google Scholar]
  90. Schwartz S, Luyckx K, Vignoles V. 2011. Handbook of Identity Theory and Research. New York: Springer [Google Scholar]
  91. Shayo M. 2009. A model of social identity with an application to political economy: nation, class, and redistribution. Am. Polit. Sci. Rev. 103:147–74 [Google Scholar]
  92. Shelton J. 2010. E pluribus unum? How racial, ethnic, and religious group memberships impact beliefs about American national identity. Natl. Ethn. Polit. 16:67–91 [Google Scholar]
  93. Sides J, Citrin J. 2007. European opinion about immigration: the role of identities, interests, and information. Br. J. Polit. Sci. 37:477–504 [Google Scholar]
  94. Silber Mohamed H. 2013. Can protests make Latinos “American”? Identity, immigration politics, and the 2006 marches. Am. Polit. Res. 41:298–327 [Google Scholar]
  95. Smith RM. 1988. The “American creed” and American identity: the limits of liberal citizenship in the United States. Western Polit. Q. 41:225–51 [Google Scholar]
  96. Smith RM. 1993. Beyond Tocqueville, Myrdal, and Hartz: the multiple traditions in America. Am. Polit. Sci. Rev. 87:549–66 [Google Scholar]
  97. Smith RM. 1997. Civic Ideals: Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  98. Smith RM. 2004. Identities, interests, and the future of political science. Perspect. Polit. 2:301–12 [Google Scholar]
  99. Song S. 2009. What does it mean to be an American?. Daedalus 138:31–40 [Google Scholar]
  100. Spears R. 2011. Group identities: the social identity perspective. See Schwartz et al. 2011 201–24
  101. Streich G. 2009. Discourses of American national identity: echoes and lessons from the 1910s–1920s. Citizsh. Stud. 13:267–87 [Google Scholar]
  102. Tajfel H. 1982. Social Identity and Intergroup Relations New York: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  103. Tajfel H, Turner J. 1986. The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. Psychology of Intergroup Relations W Austin, S Worchel 7–24 Chicago: Nelson-Hall [Google Scholar]
  104. Taylor C. 1998. The dynamics of democratic exclusion. J. Democr. 9:143–56 [Google Scholar]
  105. Taylor JB, Gershon SA, Pantoja A. 2012. Christian America? Understanding the link between church and attitudes and “being American” among Latino immigrants. Presented at Annu. Meet. Am. Polit. Sci. Assoc., New Orleans, LA. [Google Scholar]
  106. Telles E, Ortiz V. 2008. Generations of Exclusion: Mexican Americans, Assimilation, and Race New York: Russell Sage [Google Scholar]
  107. Theiss-Morse E. 2009. Who Counts as an American? The Boundaries of National Identity New York: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  108. Tocqueville A. 1835 (1990). Democracy in America New York: Vintage [Google Scholar]
  109. Transue J. 2007. Identity salience, identity acceptance, and racial policy attitudes: American national identity as a uniting force. Am. J. Polit. Sci. 51:78–91 [Google Scholar]
  110. Triandafyllidou A. 2008. Popular perceptions of Europe and the nation: the case of Italy. Nations Natl. 14:261–82 [Google Scholar]
  111. US Census Bur 2012a. Most children younger than age 1 are minorities, Census Bureau reports. News Release, May 17. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-90.html
  112. US Census Bur 2012b. U.S. Census Bureau projections show a slower growing, older, more diverse nation half a century from now. News Release, Dec. 12. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-243.html
  113. Weiner JS, Wilcox C. 2010. Bridging the cultural divide: accommodating religious diversity. Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity, and Religion V Martinez-Ebers, D Manochehr 73–101 New York: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  114. Wong C. 2010. Boundaries of Obligation in American Politics: Geographic, National, and Racial Communities New York: Cambridge Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  115. Wood G. 1969. The Creation of the American Republic Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. N.C. Press [Google Scholar]
  116. Wright M, Citrin J, Wand J. 2012. Alternative measures of American national identity: implications for the civic-ethnic distinction. Polit. Psychol. 33:469–82 [Google Scholar]
  117. Yogeeswaran K, Dasgupta N. 2010. Will the “real” American please stand up? The effect of implicit national prototypes on discriminatory behavior and judgments. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Bull. 36:1332–45 [Google Scholar]
  118. Yogeeswaran K, Dasgupta N, Gomez C. 2012. A new American dilemma? The effect of ethnic identification and public service on the national inclusion of ethnic minorities. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 42:691–705 [Google Scholar]
  119. Zhou M, Lee J. 2007. Becoming ethnic or becoming American? Reflecting on the divergent pathways to social mobility and assimilation among the new second generation. Du Bois Rev. 4:189–205 [Google Scholar]
/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-polisci-080812-144642
Loading
  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error