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What Motivates Cultural Progressives

Understanding Opposition to the Political and Christian Right

George Yancey

Publication Year: 2012

Public activism has grown significantly during the 21st century as a cornerstone of the democratic process. But activism, regardless of its ideological roots, is often interpreted through the lens of the culture wars—pitting social movements with opposing ideals against one another. For too long, as George Yancey and David Williamson argue, progressive activists, one side of these culture wars, have been seldom studied and virtually never critiqued in public conversation. Yancey and Williamson describe and analyze the multifaceted cultural progressive movement and its place within the larger American society. What they uncover is a collective identity informed by staunch opposition to cultural conservatives—both political and religious—that is motivated by the progressive activist's preference for absolute rationality. Further, Yancey and Williamson argue that, despite great resistance to conservatives purportedly nonrational appeals, progressive activists are found to use irrational techniques when seeking to establish their movement and position their cause as socially legitimate. In the contemporary heated political climate the often-surprising and likely controversial findings of What Motivates Cultural Progressives? will prove essential, thought-provoking reading for understanding the growing concern over the influence of activism.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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1. The Culture War in the United States

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pp. 1-27

In 1992 during the Republican National Convention, Patrick Buchanan delivered what has become known as his culture war speech. In the speech, he expressed the idea of a clear demarcation . . .

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2. Dynamics of Social Movements and Cultural Progressives

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pp. 29-46

Efforts to deal with the Christian right are efforts encased in a cultural progressive social movement. These efforts do not represent a series of individuals attempting to stop the Christian right on . . .

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3. Developing a Typology of Cultural Progressive Activists

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pp. 47-75

Social movement theories suggest that individuals with certain ideologies are more likely to be drawn from certain sectors of our society. If these theories are accurate, then cultural progressive activists . . .

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4. Political Concerns and Cultural Progressive Activists

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pp. 77-110

In theory, there are two major reasons why individuals oppose the Christian right. First, they oppose the political agenda of the Christian right. Second, they oppose the religious nature of the Christian . . .

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5. General Opposition to Religion in Cultural Progressive Activists

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pp. 111-138

Beyond politics, some individuals oppose the Christian right because of its religious nature. One possibility is that some individuals have an exceptional hostility to Christianity. The proposed values and . . .

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6. Cultural Progressive Activists and Critics of Christianity

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pp. 139-169

As mentioned in the previous chapter, animosity toward religion does not have to be generalized. In fact, we found that some of the hostility directed toward the Christian right is specifically due to . . .

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7. The Framing of Cultural Progressive Activism

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pp. 171-203

Over the past three chapters we have allowed cultural progressive activists to enunciate their concerns and frustrations with the Christian right. From those enunciations we have seen the values . . .

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8. Cultural Progressives in the Continuing Culture War

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pp. 205-219

Studying social movements and the individuals in them often creates a paradox. On the one hand, we know that there have to be overarching beliefs or justifications uniting individuals together . . .


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pp. 221-245


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pp. 247-254

Works Cited

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pp. 255-269


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pp. 271-273

E-ISBN-13: 9781602584655
E-ISBN-10: 1602584656
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602584631
Print-ISBN-10: 160258463X

Page Count: 279
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 805830486
MUSE Marc Record: Download for What Motivates Cultural Progressives

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Right and left (Political science) -- United States.
  • Progressivism (United States politics).
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 2009-.
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