Book notice: Press "ONE" for English:

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Sep 13 12:32:18 UTC 2006

Forwarded from Princeton U. Press site:

Press "ONE" for English:
Language Policy, Public Opinion, and American Identity
Deborah J. Schildkraut

Chapter 1

Press "ONE" for English examines how Americans form opinions on language
policy issues such as declaring English the official language, printing
documents in multiple languages, and bilingual education. Deborah
Schildkraut shows that people's conceptions of American national identity
play an integral role in shaping their views. Using insights from American
political thought and intellectual history, she highlights several
components of that identity and shows how they are brought to bear on
debates about language. Her analysis expands the range of factors
typically thought to explain attitudes in such policy areas, emphasizing
in particular the role that civic republicanism's call for active and
responsible citizenship plays in shaping opinion on language issues.

Using focus groups and survey data, Schildkraut develops a model of public
conceptions of what it means to be American and demonstrates the complex
ways in which people draw on these conceptions when forming and explaining
their views. In so doing she illustrates how focus group methodology can
help yield vital new insights into opinion formation. With the rise in the
use of ballot initiatives to implement language policies, understanding
opinion formation in this policy area has become imperative. This book
enhances our understanding of this increasingly pressing concern, and
points the way toward humane, effective, and broadly popular language
policies that address the realities of American demographics in the
twenty-first century while staying true to the nation's most revered

Deborah J. Schildkraut is Assistant Professor of Political Science at
Tufts University.


"In this well-written and engaging book, Deborah Schildkrait argues that
competing images constitute distinct conception of American identity and
that all of these must be incorporated into analyses of public support for
and opposition to ethnicity-related policies such as official English. . .
. The fact that ethnoculturalism is a full-blown conception of American
identity suggests that ascriptive attributes of ethnicity and race will
continue to play an important role in ethnicity-related debates on
immigration and language policy."--Thomas Ricento,Political Science


"This book represents an important contribution to public opinion research
generally and to the study of U.S. language policy in particular. Deborah
Schildkraut not only convincingly demonstrates that conceptions of
American national identity are key causal factors shaping people's
opinions about language policy issues, but she also advances the study of
this identity."--Ronald Schmidt, California State University, Long Beach,
author of Language Policy and Identity Politics in the United States

"This well-written, intelligently organized book shows that public opinion
of ordinary people is more complex, more situational, more subtle than
what simple-minded survey questions reveal."--Raymond Tatalovich, Loyola
University Chicago, author of Nativism Reborn? The Official English
Language Movement and the States


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