American Mosaic Project (AMP)
The American Mosaic Project studies what brings Americans together, what divides us, and the implications of our diversity for our political and civic life. We are most concerned with how Americans themselves understand the nature and consequences of diversity for their own lives and for our society as a whole, asking the questions:
- How do Americans understand ethnic, religious, and racial diversity?
- How do Americans respond to calls for greater recognition of diverse groups and lifestyles?
- How do our ethnic, racial, and religious identities shape the way we understand the obligations of citizenship and our vision of "the good society?”
How do Americans experience diversity?
The first wave of the project, a nationally representative telephone survey conducted in 2003 with support from the David Edelstein Family Foundation, measured attitudes about diversity, racial and religious identities, and discrimination. Through in-depth interviews and fieldwork across the country, we further explored the various contexts in which Americans experience diversity, focusing in particular on religious interfaith organizations, neighborhoods, and festivals. From 2005 to 2011, the research team published 14 papers with the results in American Sociological Review, Social Problems, and Sociological Theory, as well as a range of field-specific journals. The 2003 survey data is archived at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan.
2003 survey examined:
- Diversity in everyday discourse
- American antiSemitism
- Negative attitudes about atheists
- Gender and family in religious communities
- Critical whiteness theories
Ten years later, a second wave of the survey is now underway with funding from the National Science Foundation. With original faculty and several alums from the first wave serving as principal investigators and a new generation of graduate students supported by the “Edelstein Fellows” program, we fielded a new online version of the survey in the spring of 2014. This survey aims to assess the persistence of trends from the first wave over time, and it will also gather new information about the social and economic conditions associated with Americans’ attitudes towards racial and religious diversity. Preliminary findings from this new survey have been released, and several full analyses are currently underway.
Edelstein Fellows Program
Over the course of the past few years, the focus of the Edelstein Family Foundation that supported the American Mosaic Project has been oriented toward the direct support of graduate students from diverse, under-represented backgrounds who work in the core areas of race, religion, anti-Semitism, and diversity. This is what we call our "Edelstein Fellows" program. In the past five years alone the Foundation has provided substantial educational support and research experience to 11 different graduate students in our department, and this isn't even to mention the additional dozen or so who benefited from working on the American Mosaic Project research team before that.
Many of these Edelstein Fellows and American Mosaic alumni are now working at top institutions including Marquette University, Augustana College, and the University of Pittsburgh. Our former American Mosaic project manager, Eric Tranby, secured a tenure track position at the University of Vermont, and Edelstein alumna Melissa Weiner celebrated the release of her book Power, Protest, and the Public Schools: Jewish and African American Struggles in New York City (Rutgers University Press, 2010). On the strength of that volume, in fact, Weiner was recruited into a new, higher profile position in the Sociology Department at Holy Cross.
Shaping Scholarship for a New Generation
Building from these successes, our goal for the coming year is to work with several former Edelstein students to submit a major National Science Foundation grant that will fund a second wave of American Mosaic Project survey. This second generation project will not only allow us to update and develop findings from the original study, but the new wave of data will position us to recruit the next generation of graduate students into our program and include these students in shaping scholarship on racial and religious diversity and multiculturalism for a new generation.