Sociology | Topics in Social Policy
S360 | 4091 | Steensland


Topic:  Cultural Conflict in the United States

E Pluribus Unum.  Out of Many, One.  This American motto represents
the aspiration that we can all live together, despite our many
differences.  But is it true?  Lately some people aren't so sure.
They claim the country has become deeply divided over moral and
cultural issues in ways that cannot be reconciled.  According to
this viewpoint, there is a battle for America's soul being fought
between traditionalists and progressives, and this struggle is
manifested in debates over issues such as abortion, gay marriage,
and teaching evolution.

This course will evaluate this "cultural wars" thesis. We will
introduce a number of sociological concepts that can help us think
about these issues more clearly.  We will place contemporary
cultural debates in a broader historical context by examining
similar debates during the past 100 years.  We will focus on changes
in American culture since the 1960s that many people believe have
caused the recent upsurge in cultural conflict. We will examine a
few cultural debates in depth.  We will outline some proposals for
dealing with moral disagreements.  And we will evaluate whether
America is really as divided as some people claim.