When it comes to key cultural issues, Americans are significantly more divided ideologically than people in the UK, France and Germany, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted in the four country in fall 2020.
Across 11 questions on cultural topics ranging from nationalism to political correctness, the divide between the ideological left and right in the United States – or liberals and conservatives, in common American parlance – is significantly larger than the gaps ideological findings in the European countries studied. . In some cases, it’s because the American Conservatives are outliers. In other cases, it’s because American liberals are outliers. In yet other cases, the right and left in the United States occupy more extreme positions than their European counterparts, resulting in ideological gaps more than double those observed in the United Kingdom, Germany or France.
Below, we explore these trends in more detail.
The report is based on nationally representative telephone survey data of 4,069 adults from November 10 to December 23, 2020 in the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Here are the questions used for the report, along with the survey responses and methodology.
“What it takes to be one of us” and immigration
On questions of “belonging” or what it takes to truly be part of a country (for example, being “American” or “French”), people on the ideological right in all four countries are more likely than those on the left to say being a Christian, speaking the national language, sharing the customs and traditions of the country and being born in the country are “very important”.
For all four elements, however, the ideological divide in the United States is greater than in other countries. It is often – but not always – because the views of American conservatives stand out. (The US survey was conducted in November and December 2020, after the presidential election but before the inauguration of Joe Biden.)
For example, about a third of American adults who position themselves on the ideological right (32%) say being a Christian is very important to be an American, but no more than 17% on the right in any other country say the same.
When it comes to the importance of being née in the country, about a third of the American right-wing (32%) think it is very important to be American, compared to no more than 24% of those on the right in any other country. Likewise, people on the American ideological right (57%) are more likely than their counterparts in France (47%), Germany (39%) and the UK (29%) to say that sharing customs and traditions national identity is very important. .
The pattern is somewhat different when it comes to speaking the language of the country. While the overall ideological divide is again greater in the United States than in the other three countries, the American liberals are less probably their counterparts in other countries consider that speaking English is essential to be American. Only about a quarter of the left in the United States (24%) say it is very important to speak English to be truly American, while at least four in ten of those on the left in all other countries say the same. thing to talk about their national. languages.
The ideological left in the United States is also distinguished by its take on whether immigrants want to adopt the customs and way of life of the country. About eight in ten Americans on the left (79%) say so, compared to about two-thirds or less in other countries.
Pride and tradition
Across all four countries, those on the ideological right are still more likely than those on the left to say that their nation will be better off if it sticks to its traditions and ways of life, rather than if it is open to change. Yet the gap between right and left in the United States is more than twice as large as the gap in other countries. About two-thirds of those on the American ideological right (65%) think the United States should stick to its traditions, compared with just 6% on the left.
People in the US and UK are also divided along ideological lines when it comes to being proud of the country. A majority of those on the right in both countries say they are proud of their country most of the time, while only about one in six on the left in each country say the same. In fact, people on the left in the US and UK are also likely to describe themselves as shameful of their country most of the time because they say they are proud of their country most of the time. (The others describe themselves as being both ashamed and proud.) In France and Germany, on the other hand, the pride of the country is not an ideological issue; those on the left and right are about equally likely to describe themselves as proud most of the time.
Political correctness and discrimination
When it comes to “PC culture,” those on the ideological right tend to be more likely than those on the left to say that people today are too easily offended. Those on the left, in turn, are often more likely to say that people should be more careful of what they say.
On this issue too, the ideological divide in the United States is more than twice as large as that observed in any of the European countries studied, with the American right and left standing out from their counterparts abroad.
On the American right, about three-quarters (76%) say people are too easily offended – significantly more than the share of those on the right in any European country. Meanwhile, left-wing Americans (32%) are somewhat less more likely than those on the left in Germany (38%), UK (41%) and France (46%) to describe people as too easily offended these days.
Americans are also extremely divided on perceptions of the most important problem: those who see discrimination against ethnic and racial minorities where it occurs. do not exist, or people do not see such discrimination where it really exists. About six in ten on the American right (62%) say the biggest problem is that people see discrimination where it doesn’t exist, while only 9% on the left agree. Elsewhere, the ideological divide on this issue is much narrower.
When it comes to religious discrimination, in particular, Americans are much more divided than people in other countries about their perceptions of whether Christians and Muslims both face prejudice. The ideological right in the United States is significantly more likely than the right in other countries to say that Christians face a lot of discrimination – and less likely to say the same of Muslims. Meanwhile, those on the ideological left in the United States are Suite probably more than their counterparts on the European left to say that Muslims face a lot of discrimination.
There are no significant ideological differences in any of the four countries on whether Jews face a lot of discrimination or not.
Note: The following are the questions used for the report, along with the survey responses and methodology.