Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape

Stephen Hawkins et al
Date of Publication: 
July, 2018
Source Organization: 

Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape discusses the findings of a large-scale national survey of Americans about the current state of civic life in the United States. Produced by More in Common, a new international initiative to build societies that show resilience against the growing polarization of modern political life, the survey reveals the “hidden architecture of beliefs, worldviews and group attachments” that are better predictors of political opinion than demographic factors like race, gender, or income. Rather than a binary left-right dynamic, the study identified seven groups of Americans (sometimes referred to by the authors as “tribes”) that are differentiated by their underlying beliefs. The authors assigned respondents to these tribes based on answers to a subset of 58 core belief and behavioral questions. Arranged from left to right on the political spectrum, the tribes are:  progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives. While the progressive activists on the left (8 percent of respondents) and the devoted conservatives on the right (6 percent) have predictable and almost uniform views on a range of issues, including immigration, the other tribes are much more nuanced and flexible in their views. For example, 64 percent of Americans as a whole believe that people fleeing war and persecution should be able to take refuge in other countries, but only 27 percent of Devoted Conservatives hold that opinion. By segmenting the American electorate in this manner and analyzing underlying value and belief systems, the authors see the potential to generate creative solutions to the nation’s problems and to prevent political polarization from spiraling out of control. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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Hawkins, S., et al. (2018). Hidden Tribes: A Study of America's Polarized Landscape. More in Common: Retrieved from https://hiddentribes.us/pdf/hidden_tribes_report.pdf