Ethnic Groups: Attachments, Enmities, and Support for War

in In Time of War

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226043586
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226043463 | DOI:
Ethnic Groups: Attachments, Enmities, and Support for War

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A tremendous body of research has demonstrated that attachments and enmities to salient social groupings in society shape political understanding and behavior on domestic issues. Drawing primarily on data from World War II, this chapter argues that beliefs about those groups to which individuals feel loyalty or hostility also structure their attitudes in the realm of foreign policy. The effects of group loyalties differ from the effects of partisanship because long-standing group attachments lead to sizable, but stable, differences in opinion on war. Group attachments allow individuals to form their own opinions independent of partisan political leadership. In these ways, group-based differences provide a bedrock structure to public opinion. This chapter looks at other cases involving group-based thinking—namely, sanctions on South Africa in the mid-1980s—to demonstrate that feelings toward domestic groups can structure opinion on foreign policy more generally. Under certain circumstances, changes in the international arena can also shape animosities toward ethnic groups. This chapter also considers the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Keywords: social groupings; public opinion; World War II; foreign policy; group attachments; sanctions; South Africa; ethnic groups; Japanese Americans; internment

Chapter.  9148 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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