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National study to examine how race, religion shape U.S. values

Eric Tranby is principal investigator on a follow-up to the 2003 American Mosaic Project, a survey that examined race, religion and U.S. values and opinions.

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 similar magnitude.

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.


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Sociologist Eric Tranby is part of a national project that seeks to update a similar survey conducted a decade ago.

To gauge the shift in American attitudes concerning race and religion over the past 10 years, UD sociologist Eric Tranby is participating in a national survey that seeks to update similar research for which he helped develop questions a decade ago.

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