Although tolerance is one of our most cherished ideals, history suggests it is not an inborn human trait. Tolerance must be learned, and the sophisticated arguments on which it is based make it much harder to learn than intolerance. In this extensive study of civil liberties, Herbert McClosky and Alida Brill attempt to discover who learns the norms of tolerance and why.
Reaching well beyond traditional categories of analysis, McClosky and Brill have surveyed civil libertarian attitudes among the general public, opinion leaders, lawyers and judges, police officials, and academics. They analyze levels of tolerance in a wide range of civil liberties domains—first amendment rights, due process, privacy, and such emerging areas as women's and homosexual rights—and along numerous variables including political participation, ideology, age, and education.
This landmark study offers a comprehensive assessment of the viability—and vulnerability—of beliefs central to the democratic system. It makes an invaluable contribution to the study of contemporary American institutions and attitudes.
Herbert McClosky was research director at the Survey Research Center in Berkeley and professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley.
Alida Brill was program director and scholar in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation.