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THE POLITICAL BELIEFS OF AMERICANS by Lloyd A. & Hadley Cantril Free

THE POLITICAL BELIEFS OF AMERICANS

By

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1967
Publisher: Rutgers University Press

An interesting study which suffers from a dull style and crude categorization. In their desire to quantify their subject, the authors have employed superficial, imprecise rubrics. They assume, e.g., that ""more than anything else the core of the difference between liberals and conservatives is...disagreement about the use of Federal power and resources for social ends."" Their loaded definitions make for a dud of an analysis, suggestive but self-confirming. They find, not surprisingly, that the great majority of Americans accept the principles of free enterprise but would be appalled if the government failed to intervene and stabilize the economy in bad times. From this they deduce the platitude that Americans are ""conservative"" in ideology but ""liberal"" in practice, a conclusion which falls apart empirically given their own standards, to say nothing of its inherent methodological flaws. The most valuable part of the book is its tables, which supplement the classic studies and may help other students draw their own inferences.