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The Political Consequences of Intolerance: Cultural Conformity and Political Freedom

  • James L. Gibson (a1)

I demonstrate that the intolerance of ordinary citizens matters for real politics even if strong linkages to policy outputs do not exist. In particular, the model I test posits that cultural intolerance constrains the liberty of individual citizens. Focusing on how people perceive political freedom, several hypotheses coupling tolerance and freedom are explored. Data from a national survey show that tolerance and freedom are connected. Those who do not feel free to express themselves politically are more likely to be intolerant of others, to have less heterogeneous peer groups and less tolerant spouses, and to live in less tolerant communities. Ultimately, the importance of mass political intolerance in the United States is that it establishes a culture of conformity that seems to constrain individual political liberty in many important ways.

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American Political Science Review
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