Cultural Conflict in America

Originally published in Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, 1990
  • James Davison Hunter


Hunter provides an analysis of contemporary group conflict in America that focuses on the presence of two distinct collective identities in political debate. For Hunter, Americans tend to cleave into two groups, especially at the extremes: the progressives and the orthodox. Progressives derive their sense of political authority from a vision of morality that is evolutionary, malleable, and subject to change as circumstances shift. There are few, if any, absolute standards of right and wrong; instead, social practices that made sense at one point in human history may be absurd at another. The traditional place of the woman in the home as child-rearer serves as a useful example of progressive thought: While this practice may once have made sense, contemporary circumstances make it possible for women to leave the home and enter the paid workforce as equal partners with men. Thus the traditional role for women represents a time-bound conception of “rightness”: It may have once made sense, but times change.


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Copyright information

© Lane Crothers and Charles Lockhart 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Davison Hunter

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