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Diversity in America

Diversity in America

Keeping Government at a Safe Distance

Peter H. Schuck

ISBN 9780674018549

Publication date: 02/25/2006

America is the first society in history to make ethno-racial diversity an affirmative social ideal rather than viewing it as a fearful menace, as almost all other societies still do. Since the 1960s, America has pursued this ideal in many forms—not only to remedy past discrimination against minorities but also to increase diversity for its own sake.

It is high time for an accounting. How diverse are we now and what can we expect in the future? Why do we, unlike the rest of the world, think that diversity is desirable and that more of it is better? What risks does diversity pose? What are the roles of law, politics, and informal social controls in promoting diversity? How can we manage diversity better?

In this magisterial book, Peter H. Schuck explains how Americans have understood diversity, how we came to embrace it, how the government regulates it now, and how we can do better. He mobilizes a wealth of conceptual, historical, legal, political, and sociological analysis to argue that diversity is best managed not by the government but by families, ethnic groups, religious communities, employers, voluntary organizations, and other civil society institutions. Analyzing some of the most controversial policy arenas where politics and diversity intersect—immigration, multiculturalism, language, affirmative action, residential neighborhoods, religious practices, faith-based social services, and school choice—Schuck reveals the conflicts, trade-offs, and ironies entailed by our commitment to the diversity ideal. He concludes with recommendations to help us manage the challenge of diversity in the future.


  • Schuck…sees diversity as a tremendous natural resource for American civic life. But through laws that restrict economic freedom and institutions that squelch energetic public discourse, he thinks the government has turned this great asset into a liability. Teachers and students can’t always say what they want when they want because of constitutional restraints of religious speech in school, liability to lawsuits on a range of discrimination issues and the general timidity that has followed… The connections he makes between the familiar and the unexpected, and among left, right and center, make Diversity in America remarkably original.

    —Peter Temes, New York Times


  • Peter H. Schuck is Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law, Yale University.

Book Details

  • 462 pages
  • 1-3/16 x 5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches
  • Belknap Press

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