Speakers|January 5, 2011 12:40 am

Journalist to Discuss “Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart” Feb. 9

Roanoke, Va. – Why is America so culturally and politically divided? Journalist Bill Bishop tackles the question in his book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, and he will talk about his findings on Wednesday, February 9 at 7 p.m. in Hollins University’s Niederer Auditorium, located in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center.

Bishop goes beyond the conventional red state/blue state split and uses original demographic data in The Big Sort to explain the causes and consequences of how Americans over the past three decades have sorted themselves geographically, economically and politically into homogeneous communities. He warns that Americans’ growing tendency to choose neighborhoods, churches and media outlets that are most compatible with their lifestyle and
beliefs breeds economic inequality, cultural misunderstanding, political extremism and legislative gridlock.

Bishop says the nation is dividing into “balkanized communities whose inhabitants find other Americans to be culturally incomprehensible…. Americans lost their sense of a nation by accident in the sweeping economic and cultural shifts that took place after the mid-1960s. And by instinct they have sought out modern-day recreations of the 19th-century ‘island communities’ in where and how they live.”

The Wall Street Journal called The Big Sort a “rich and challenging book about the ways in which the citizens of this country have, in the past generation, rearranged themselves into discrete enclaves that have little to say to one another and little incentive to bother trying.” The Boston Globe said the book “presents a provocative portrait of the splintering of America.” Bishop discussed his findings in this interview from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Bishop’s appearance at Hollins is made possible by the Darci Ellis Godhard Fund for
Social Justice.

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