To gauge the shift in American attitudes
concerning race and religion over the past 10 years, Eric Tranby,
assistant sociology professor at the University of Delaware, is asking
the questions he helped develop a decade ago.
The survey he worked on as a graduate student at the University of
Minnesota in 2003 — the American Mosaic Project — was a national survey
of 2,000 people that sought to examine what factors unite and divide
Americans through a lens of race and religion.
Now, funded by a six-figure grant from the National Science
Foundation, Tranby is principal investigator on a follow-up study of
Working with colleagues from the original Mosaic study, Tranby has
developed "Boundaries in the American Mosaic: Inclusion and Exclusion in
the Contemporary United States," a nationally representative survey of
3,000 respondents that will examine how race and religion shape the
American identity and experience.
"There have been lots of changes," Tranby said. "Are we going to see the same things? Probably not."
The initial Mosaic project explored numerous American attitudes, from
perceptions on racial inequality (white respondents thought it was
decreasing; black respondents saw it on the rise), to views on religious
groups (no religious group was seen as more threatening than atheists).
by notes that the past decade has seen profound social and
cultural changes, including the rising awareness of non-religious life,
the election of the country's first African-American president and two
back-to-back recessions that included a collapse of the housing market.
"In this era of divisive politics, cultural wars, pundits and talking
points, this project will provide rigorous empirical data with which to
make sense of how people understand American society, its goals and
challenges," he said.