The millennial census affords a unique opportunity to comment on the state of the nation, its history, and its future direction. The Foundation will publish two books, each offering a thought-provoking interpretation of the major themes that define the United States at this resonant historical moment. These books will present a comprehensive profile of the country as it appears in the latest census numbers. They will also draw upon past censuses and other sources of data to explain how America developed over the past century and how it may develop in the next.
In their book, U.S.A.: A Century of Difference, Michael Hout and Claude Fischer will trace America's struggles throughout the twentieth century with issues of unity and diversity, identity and difference, commonality and individualism. Hout and Fischer discern an irreconcilable conflict in the image Americans hold of themselves: We see our nation's diversity of races, regions, and religions as both a point of pride and a potential threat. We want to come together as a nation, avowing a set of common values, even as we valorize individualism and decry conformity. This tension was apparent in the regional and religious schisms of the past, and it continues to animate current concerns over the assimilation of immigrants, the ongoing "culture wars", and the divisive inequality of our restructured economy.
In One Nation Divisible: What America Was and What It Is Becoming, Michael Katz and Mark Stern will uncover the links between globalization, America's restless population, and the periodic restructuring of everyday life. By globalization, the authors refer not only to foreign trade, but also to the dramatic compression of space and time brought about by new technologies of transport and communication. They will trace the roots of present-day globalization to the period following the second world war, when the United States staked out a bold new strategic position in the world. They will also draw comparisons with the period 1900-1910, when the issues of trade, international relations, and immigration were as high on the agenda as they are now. Using case studies to flesh out the statistics, they will show how our nation's changing position in the world economy has had profound and far-reaching consequences. Globalization helped to force a transformation in our industrial structure, spurring the migration of people and businesses across America. Globalization also placed new demands on the American worker, impelling both women and men to stay in school longer, marry later, and postpone childbearing, so they could acquire the skills they need to prosper in the world economy.