The American Mosaic Project is designed to contribute to our understanding of 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. 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?”
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 fourteen papers with the results in American Sociological Review, Social Problems, and Sociological Theory, as well as a range of field-specific journals. In addition to broad studies of Americans’ visions of diversity, topics also included more specific examinations of anti-Semitism, negative attitudes about atheists, gender and family in religious communities, and critical whiteness theories. The 2003 survey data is archived at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan.
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 PIs, 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 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.