Americans appear to be more tolerant of deviant opinions and life-styles now than they were a generation ago. Recent research by Sullivan and his colleagues suggests, however, that this apparent change is largely illusory — a product not of an increase in principled support for tolerance, but rather of shifts in public dislike for, and hence intolerance of, particular political groups. An alternative account of tolerance is proposed which shows that citizen attitudes on issues of tolerance are remarkably consistent — far more so than has been commonly appreciated. In particular, the empirical analysis distinguishes two kinds of consistency − ‘principled’ and ‘situational’. Using log-linear techniques, it demonstrates that substantial numbers of the general public now support a variety of forms of tolerance consistently; and do so, not for reasons peculiar to each, but rather on principle. The broader implications of the results for the study of public opinion and democratic theory are noted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science