Argumentative Essay on the Multiple Traditions Theory by Rogers Smith

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1124 Words
Date:  2021-04-13

The multiple traditions theory fronted by Rogers Smith supported the idea that Americans live in a single shared culture that is constituted by numerous and complex aspects. Such complex issues have been less acknowledged over the years. Each of diverse groups has contributed towards creating institutions and ideologies that enhance a shared culture within the American life. Some of the groups also make an effort to resist the practices that appear to subjugate their aspirations, creating ascribed structures. Over time, the diverse groups take defensive positions to reinforce their ascriptive traits and make an effort to denigrate the ascriptive traits of others, though with minimal results.

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The multiple traditions theory supports the idea of America having a diverse political culture beyond the Republican, liberal, or ascriptive elements. Rather, the political system is constituted by complex integrations of traditions group through inconsistent combinations. These circumstances create recurring conflicts. Rogers Smith points out that the standard accounts often fail to recognize these irregular combination patterns, resulting in a failure to explain why Americans have been able to uphold the combined aspects of Republican, liberal and ascriptive traditions even if they no longer have intellectual coherency. They only pursue them in combinations that appeal to them on psychological and political levels.

The multiple traditions theory presents new realities on the allegiance of Americans to the mainstream traditions of ascriptive hierarchy, republican and liberal beliefs. The people do not get satisfaction by aligning to pure ideals of either Republican, liberal, or ascriptive hierarchy. It is because each of these traditions as some elements that threaten instead of affirming the privileged position held by Christians, whites, patriarchs, and Anglo-Saxonists. It has seen the creation of a trend where Americans support openly contradicting beliefs when creating their institutions. As much as the American Society took political steps to address the older problems of ascriptive hierarchy, such as slavery, the contemporary society still fights to build institutions and doctrines that support the modified versions of such ascriptive hierarchy. Even liberal followers in America today still believe that having the certain privileged group of people in their community gives them some fundamental sense of specialty. There are even some intellectual studies that have been conducted to affirm this position. The liberalists do this despite the fact that the discriminatory aspects that may be happening against them as a result of this differential advantage possessed the particular groups. To understand this, the American society considers expatriation as a natural right, even after the most recent regime of the Democratic Party that supports the liberal tradition.

Rogers Smith's ideas fronted in the multiple traditions theory still reflect the socio-political characteristics of the American culture today. Smith believed that other than the two mainstream political traditions of republicanism and liberalism, an ascriptive hierarchy was also emerging as a very strong factor influencing the political and social discourse of the American society. He believed that in this culture, society evolves into some form of hierarchy that places some groups of people at the top and confines other groups at the bottom level. The group of people at the top level are perceived as deserving all the benefits and rights that they can gain from the liberal society, while the ones falling in the lower groups are viewed as less deserving of these rights in a liberal society, actually creating an illiberal society. In the early American days, an ascriptive hierarchy was expressed through crude acts of discrimination against woman, and racial minorities such as blacks. Ascriptive hierarchy thrives due to the majority support it gains from the society, leading to the creation of a socio-political culture that cannot be quickly annihilated. The greatest impact of these majority views cannot be easily marginalized, as they are even willing to express it through the ballot.

The ascriptive hierarchy has been developed atop the two most important political cultures of republicanism and liberalism, making it hard for anyone to think of fighting it successfully. The political forces have made significant contributions towards ensuring that ascriptive hierarchy is acceptable in the American society today. The most American society has been putting strict restrictions on the acquisition of citizenship status, actually creating bottlenecks for eligibility of nationality by original nationality, and race. Just after the recent concluded US elections in 2016, the new regime made a decision to issue US visa bans against certain Muslim-majority countries perceived to be kind hosts for world terrorists. Those illegal immigrants in the US were also deported back to their country. These actions by US President Donald Trump were a critical part of his campaign pledge, and the majority votes he got signify the desire of the majority US citizens have illegal immigrants deported and visa sanctions imposed against certain Muslim- majority countries.

For a long time in the US, men have been perceived to possess the natural ability to rule over women. The male parent still heads most American families today, even though the political forces have been established legal structures to try to attain womens equality. More men are also elected in US political offices as compared to women, prompting the politicians to pursue affirmative action by creating legislative seats to be contested for by women only. The other significant example is the idea that America, mostly elects male presidents over the many years it has been in existence. The recent case is the popular election of President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, despite Hillary Clinton having had prior political experience that Donald Trump lacked.

The Christians and Jews in the US have been perceiving themselves as more superior theologically, culturally, politically and morally as compared to the minority religions like Muslims. This was reflected in their voting pattern that saw them vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump despite his harsh campaign rhetoric that promised to deport immigrants once elected as President. Most Americans find themselves subject to external forces of ascriptive hierarchy that have been created over the years due to circumstances of the nature of history. They have increasingly adopted social roles and personal behaviors that mark identities formed on a continuum. This adaptation and acceptance of ascriptive hierarchy serve to reinforce the stratification to the benefit of the group of people sitting at the top. The elites have developed a deep feeling that they are the ones more deserving of the political and material benefits that come from the tradition established systems in the country.


King, Desmond S., and Rogers M. Smith. "Racial orders in American political development." American political science review 99, no. 01 (2005): 75-92.

Lieberman, Robert C. "Ideas, institutions, and political order: Explaining political change." American political science review 96, no. 04 (2002): 697-712.

Smith, Rogers M. "Beyond Tocqueville, Myrdal, and Hartz: The Multiple Traditions in America." American political science review 87, no. 03 (1993): 549-566.

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