An American Conundrum: Race, Sociology, And The African American Road To Citizenship

Lawrence D. Bobo

in The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195188059
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 An American Conundrum: Race, Sociology, And The African American Road To Citizenship

Show Summary Details


The question of race lies at the heart of one of the great debates of American ideas and scholarly discourse. At one end of this debate we can find those who argue for the American Liberal Tradition. At its core this position maintains that American institutions, values, and culture are deeply liberal. As such, the nation is destined to adopt a broadly expansive and inclusive sense of who belongs and is worthy of respect. Under this perspective, the United States will eventually and inevitably transcend the divisions of race and black–white inequality that marred the nation's founding, arriving ultimately at a place of full comity between blacks and whites. Several variants and exemplars of the argument exist. For example, sociologist Nathan Glazer made the case for one prominent version of this argument that he termed “the American ethnic pattern.” This view has three core claims. First, that people from the world over would be allowed to enter the United States. And, furthermore, that “all citizens would have equal rights. No group would be considered subordinate to another.” Second, that the government would not extend formal and distinctive political recognition and rights to separate ethnic groups. Third, however, that no ethnic group would be compelled to give up its distinctive cultural traditions and practices.

Keywords: race; African American citizenship; black–white inequality; ethnic groups; political recognition; cultural traditions

Article.  21427 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Politics and Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.