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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University


Author: Cohen, Steven M. and Liebman, Charles S.
Author Background:
Date 1/1/97
Type Journal
Journal Title: Public Opinion Quarterly
Volume/Pages 61(3)p.405-430
Subject Matter African American
Abstract Researchers have advanced several explanations for the liberalism of American Jews. Two of them - universalized compassion and argumentative individualism - posit the impact of values attributed tothe Jewish tradition. Other theories focus on historical circumstance,minority group interests, and religious modernism. To examine these five theories, the authors analyze twenty National OpinionResearch Center General Social Surveys from 1972 to 1994 (N = 32,380) amalgamated so as to obtain a sufficient number of Jewish respondents (N = 784). Jews are indeed substantially more liberal than non-Jews in almost all issue areas. However, after sociodemographic and other controls are introduced, substantial gaps between Jews and others remain in just four areas: political self-identification (as Democrats and liberals), church-state seperation(school prayer), social codes (largely issues relating to sex), and domestic spending. In contrast, Jews are not particularly liberal with respect to civil liberties,government intervention for the poor and ill, sympathy with African Americans, oropposition to capital punishment. In addition, contrary to the expectations of the argumentative individualism explanation, Jews with intermediate levels of attendance at religious services are not particularly liberal. None of the results supports thetwo explanations based on traditional Judaic values. The three other explanations help explain Jewish liberalism in those discrete issue areas where Jews are indeed particularly liberal.