Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society.

AuthorDavis, Cindy L.
PositionBook review

Lewis, Earl and Nancy Cantor, eds. Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. xv + 288 pages. Paperback, $19.95.

Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society (2016) brings together information that provides demographic, theoretical, and applied perspectives on diversity. While diversity has been a social and political issue for some time, diversity as defined and practiced in policy has not kept pace with the contemporary reality of American society. This volume points out that diversity is an evolving concept and if not understood as such, will continue to be defined and practiced in a manner that does not match the changing needs of the nation.

The volume begins with a two-part introductory section providing needed background information. Lewis and Cantor state that this is the first in a series that will seek to place diversity in the modern social landscape. The second piece in the introductory section, "The 'Diversity Explosion' Is America's Twenty-first-Century Baby Boom" by Frey, provides demographic and statistical data essential to better understanding the essays and commentaries in the text. Frey notes key changes including growth of new minority groups, decline in the white population, economic advances for black populations, and a shift toward a no majority racial group nation (after the year 2040). After outlining demographic changes, Frey provides a framework to meet these changes, such as a focus on the cultural generation gap.

Part One of the volume contains essays that present key issues in understanding diversity. Sugrue's "Less Separate, Still Unequal: Diversity and Equality in 'Post-Civil Rights' America" focuses on the distinction between diversity and equality. In his essay, Sugrue paints a realistic portrait of how even though there may be increases in diversity or "public" acceptance of diversity, there remains a deep divide in equality and opportunity in areas from housing to education to the workplace. This raises a series of tough questions that should be addressed about the relationship between diversity and inequality.

Allen's "Toward a Connected Society" provides a conceptual perspective explaining that prior concepts like assimilation and multiculturalism should be replaced by the ideal of social connectedness in order to achieve a cultural transformation leading to a more...

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