Lilliana Mason Uncivil Agreement Summary

“Political polarization in America is at a record high and the conflict has propelled itself beyond differences of opinion on political issues. … Hatred and anger, as well as the absence of positive intergroup feelings and moral guilt or shame, can be a significant obstacle to both the type of interest-based agreements that would benefit all parties involved and the types of relationship development programs that can humanize opponents and create the confidence to reach broader agreements. Indeed, trying to obtain such an agreement by carefully producing effective concessions without worrying about relational barriers can be an exercise in vain. – Kahn et al. (2016) If I may say so, let me hold a mirror to science itself. Does this “incivile segmentation” affect faculty, not only in politics, but also in schools of thought? As far as politics is concerned, I have observed a somewhat exaggerated reaction from academics to the Trump election, so much so that there are regular “Tourette`s Syndrome” oaths on the current political landscape that seems stronger than the past. It is almost as if there were “two-minute hate sessions” to deduce from meetings that have nothing to do with the current political landscape. And those who don`t walk the line jump right away. This “furious” phenomenon encompasses many of those who are supposed to analyze the political landscape in a professional (passionate) way.

But do we do it? The social science profession seems to be approaching the Trump administration as a great outlier (several above-average standard deviations), but has anyone asked if the government is really so “far away”? In short, does Professor Mason, who is studying in the political world, also have an impact on the profession in which the analysis is conducted? Enter political scientist Lilliana Mason to understand our growing cultural and political divide in her recent book Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity. With only 140 pages, Uncivil Agreement makes a well-informed and well-documented argument that our gap is based only loosely on genuine political differences and is more rooted in our divergent cultural identities that have grouped demographically over the past fifty years. In other words, the vicious circle of polarization, which has worsened with the Trump presidency – a process accelerated by partisan prejudices and social divisions (gravel on people who look like us and think) – has not so much to do with what we actually think of the world, but more with what we think of ourselves. It is almost as if we Americans live in two distinct realities. As these realities deviate further, our priorities shift from the country`s evolution to the development of our political tribe at the expense of the country. Without a sense of national cohesion, common identity and common purpose, the fabric of our society can collapse.