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

Paperback | 2007 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691130576
256 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 1 line illus. 24 tables.
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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 values.


"In this well-written and engaging book, Deborah Schildkraut 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 Quarterly


"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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