Item description for Culture Wars: The Struggle To Control The Family, Art, Education, Law, And Politics In America by James Davison Hunter...
Overview Examines the ideological conflicts and controversies that divide the country and demonstrates how different sides have endeavored to gain control over such areas of conflict as the family, education, law, and politics
"<>A riveting account of how Christian fundamentalists, Orthodox Jews, and conservative Catholics have joined forces in a battle against their progressive counterparts for control of American secular c"
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Studio: Basic Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.08" Width: 5.3" Height: 1.08" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Oct 14, 1992
Publisher Basic Books
ISBN 0465015344 ISBN13 9780465015344
Availability 0 units.
More About James Davison Hunter
James Davidson Hunter is professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of Virginia and author of Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation (1987).
James Davison Hunter currently resides in the state of Virginia. James Davison Hunter was born in 1955.
Reviews - What do customers think about Culture Wars: The Struggle To Control The Family, Art, Education, Law, And Politics In America?
A wide-angle view on American society... Feb 22, 2006
Though the book was published originally published in 1991, it is no wonder that this book is still in print: it is as relevant as ever - and I daresay its relevance is increasing again.
In this book, Hunter gives us a wide-angle view of what is going on in American society since the second half of the twentieth century. Hunter argues that there is a culture war going on. Consequently, he aims at describing the historical and socio-political backgrounds of this cultural conflict.
In five parts, Hunter introduces the culture war (prologue and chapters 1 and 2), maps the lines of conflict (chapters 3 and 4), describes the means of the warfare: the discourse and technology (chapters 5 and 6), and extensively describes the fields of conflict: family, education, media and the arts, law, and electoral politics (chapters 7-11), and finally points out possibilities for a resolution (chapter 12 and the epilogue).
Hunter defines a cultural conflict as "political and social hostility rooted in different systems of moral understanding" (42). According to Hunter, the culture war in America revolves around different worldviews, "our most fundamental and cherished assumptions about how to order or lives - our own lives and our lives together in this society" (42). The contemporary culture war is "a struggle over national identity - over the meaning of America, who we have been in the past, who we are now, and perhaps most important, who we, as a nation, will aspire to become in the new millennium" (50).
Though Hunter acknowledges that the culture war is fought out mainy by the elite and 'knowledge workers', this cultural conflict intersects the lives of most Americans, because the conflict has an impact on every institution of American society: family, education, media, law, and politics.
Hunter writes brilliantly, avoiding jargon as much as possible and defining many concepts with exceptional clarity. This book is really an excellent read.
A personal note: I am a European citizen and often quite puzzled by what is going on in America. This book gave me a really good perspective on the backgrounds of some American discussions, such as Intelligent Design and why the evolution-creation struggle constantly revolves around education textbooks.
Moreover, this book also made me realize that in contemporary Europe there are plenty of signs that, perhaps, a European culture war is at hand...
An eye-opener, most definitely!
Outstanding! Jul 30, 2005
This book is outstanding! Not only does it comprehensively address the topic of the "culture wars," giving alot of historical perspective, but it does so in an unbiased manner (obviously, your agreement with this point depends on your perspective). Although this book was written in 1991, i.e., before the Internet, web-based fund raising, blogs, etc., its basic messages are still both sound and relevant. If you really want to challenge your thinking and open your mind to other positions on this subject, this book's for you!
Still Relevent and Timely After All These Years! Oct 26, 2004
The title of my review refers to the fact that this book, while published in '91, is still quite an accurate portrayal of how the culture wars are conducted. The passing of 13 years and tenure of two presidents has not served to ameliorate the culture war between 'traditionalists' and 'progressives.' Hunter, then, was certainly right.
Hunter's main thesis with this book is that, quite frankly, the culture war being fought over our schools, family policy, law, entertainment, etc. is not a war that will likely EVER engender a consensus. In fact, as it stands now, it seems even to proclude rational debate in favor of charged rhetoric, miscaricaturizations of opponents, and...well...mudslinging.
Hunter asserts this thesis, backs it up with chronicles of how the culture war has been conducted thus far, and conjectures as to why it is so. First, he says, we are dealing with core philosophic differences over questions to do with 'how the world should be.' Thus, both sides have deep emotions on the said issues. Second, there is no incentive to try and foster consensus because in an adversarial system like ours, the game is about power - the power to get your policy instituted and your other's quashed. Third, each 'side' operates using somewhat incompatible philosophic assumptions. To the anti-abortion-rights activist, it is a child and abortion is murder. To the abortion rights activist, it is only potential life and prohibiting abortion is denying the mother freedom of person. Where one sees freedom (either of the mother or fetus), the other sees either servitude or murder. Incomatibilities like these, says Hunter, will ensure that there will be no satisfactory end to the culture war - just a long, tiring, rhetorically charged, and endless, struggle.
Hunter makes his arguments well, is quite convincing, and is as objective as possible. He gives both sides due consideration, never caricaturizing them. While the book focuses on the culture wars from somewhat of a religious perspective (Catholic and Evangelical v. Liberal Protestant and Jew) in the end, the book is about the culture war PERIOD. Highly reccomended reading.
Why the culture wars continue? Jun 1, 2002
This was a textbook for me in seminary. I am in a conservative Presbyterian denomination and studied at a very conservative seminary, and this book got some interesting reviews from the students.
For me, it was a little difficult, since I don't have much background in sociology, but as I trudged through it I really grew to appreciate it. Some of my other classmates loved it too, but there were several who were quite taken aback by it. They didn't like it because Hunter didn't come out and condemn those who were on the wrong side of the culture wars.
But that is just the point - in this book he does not try to point out who is wrong and who is right, his object is to demonstrate why neither side is able to persuade, or prevail against the other.
Each side in the culture war has it's own set of presuppositions and assumptions that it speaks from. Because of this, that which seems most persuasive to one side completely misses those on the other side, because they don't share the same presuppositions. We are talking past one another.
Another problem that Hunter addresses is the issue of extremes and inflammatory rhetoric. Hunter says that, by and large, the culture wars are being fought by people on the extreme ends of their positions. So, the battle of the culture wars is usually fought with inflammatory rhetoric that doesn't persuade, it just angers.
As a sidenote I recently read a story about how communists used to train their young recruits. This particular communist said that when a young person adopted communism the best thing they could do was immediately set them on a street corner passing out communist leaflets. They would get attacked mercilessly, but this attack would only serve to harden and solidify the young communist in his or her beliefs.
I think Hunter shows this - the inflammatory rhetoric used by those on the extreme ends of the culture war debates, only serves to harden the other side in their respective positions.
So, if you are looking for quick answers, or a strategy to defeat your opponents, you won't find it here. But, if you are willing to begin to at least try to understand your opponents, as well as the larger issues, this is a great place to start.
The Endless Culture Wars! Aug 5, 2001
In this work Hunter looks at the culture wars and how they play out in the fields of the family, education, government and the media. His book is well researched and makes several good points. For instance, he argues that both sides must agree on basic definitions and standards before debate can make any sense. I had trouble with two aspects, though.
First of all, although the first half of the book is devoted to our history and earlier culture conflicts, Hunter never adequately explains how those fights led to our present one. How, for instance, does Protestant-Catholic argument about Bible use in public schools translate into today's argument over condom distribution? How does discrimination against Jews cease while controversy over homosexuals increases? It is clear that new coalitions have formed, but it is less clear just why.
Secondly, Hunter has an bothersome tendency to sprinkle the book with sociological jargon. He may be a sociologist, but the terms don't add much to our knowledge. Groups are said, for example, to use positive and negative face when talking about themselves and their opponents. But in the end isn't mud slinging simply mudslinging. Isn't ugliness mere ugliness. And while any book of this kind needs examples, Hunter goes overboard by providing examples everywhere. As a result the book becomes hopelessly predictable at times.