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“The Big Sort” That Wasn't: A Skeptical Reexamination

  • Samuel J. Abrams (a1) and Morris P. Fiorina (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 14 March 2012

In 2008 journalist Bill Bishop achieved the kind of notice that authors dream about. His book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, was mentioned regularly during the presidential campaign; most notably, former president Bill Clinton urged audiences to read the book. Bishop's thesis is that Americans increasingly are choosing to live in neighborhoods populated with people just like themselves. In turn, these residential choices have produced a significant increase in geographic political polarization. Bishop does not contend that people consciously decide to live with fellow Democrats or Republicans; rather political segregation is a byproduct of the correlations between political views and the various demographic and life-style indicators people consider when making residential decisions. Whatever the cause, Bishop contends that the resulting geographic polarization is a troubling and dangerous development.

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Matthew Levendusky . 2009. The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Eric McGhee , and Daniel Krimm . 2009. “Party Registration and the Geography of Party Polarization.” Polity 41 (2009): 345–67.

J. Miller McPherson , Lynn Smith-Lovin , and Matthew Brashears . 2008. “The Ties that Bind Are Fraying.” Contexts 7 (3): 3236.

M. McPherson , L. Smith-Lovin , and M.E . Brashears . 2006. “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades.” American Sociological Review 71: 353–75.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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