The 50% American

Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terror

Stanley A. Renshon

"Starting from the strange concept of 'dual nationality,' Renshon gives us a comprehensive and disturbing survey of the current condition of Amerian national identity. This is a valuable, thoroughly documented source book for any American concerned about our dwindling sense of common citizenship."
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The United States is the only nation in the world that allows its citizens to hold one or more foreign citizenships, vote in another nation's elections, run for or be appointed to office in another country, and join the armed forces even of a nation with interests hostile to those of the U.S. while retaining their citizenship. These policies reinforce the often already strong emotional, political, and economic ties today's immigrants retain to their home countries. Yet few studies have addressed what dual citizenship means for the United States as a nation and the integration of immigrants into the American national community. Is it possible to reconcile two different nationalities, cultures, and psychologies? How can we honor immigrants' sense of identity without threatening American national identity? What do Americans have a right to expect of immigrants and what do they have a right to expect of Americans?

In The 50% American political psychologist Stanley Renshon offers unique insight into the political and national ramifications of personal loyalties. Arguing that the glue that binds this country together is a psychological force—patriotism—he explains why powerful emotional attachments are critical to American civic process and how they make possible united action in times of crisis. In an age of terrorism, the idea that we are all Americans regardless of our differences is more than a credo; it is essential to our national security. Comprehensive in scope, this book examines recent immigration trends, tracing the assimilation process that immigrants to the United States undergo and describing how federal, state, and local governments have dealt with volatile issues such as language requirements, voting rights, and schooling. Renshon turns a critical eye to the challenges posed over the past four decades by multiculturalism, cultural conflict, and global citizenship and puts forth a comprehensive proposal for reforming dual citizenship and helping immigrants and citizens alike become more integrated into the American national community.

Table of Contents



1 American Democracy and the Dilemmas of Dual Citizenship

Part I. American National Identity: The Framework

2 The Search for the Missing Link

3 A Theory of American National Identity

Part II. Domestic Challenges to American National Identity

4 Multiculturalism and National Identity

5 Hyphenation and National Identity

Part III. Global Challenges to American National Identity

6 Transnationalism and National Identity

7 Why Not a Transnational American Identity?

Part IV. The Development of National Identity

8 Do Multiple National Attachments Equal Conflicted National Loyalties?

9 Reforming Dual Citizenship: Some Proposals

10 Becoming American: Some Proposals


Appendix: Countries and Territories Allowing Dual Citizenship in Some Form



"Starting from the strange concept of 'dual nationality,' Renshon gives us a comprehensive and disturbing survey of the current condition of Amerian national identity. This is a valuable, thoroughly documented source book for any American concerned about our dwindling sense of common citizenship."—John Derbyshire, National Review columnist

"Renshon has made himself an expert on the issue of dual citizenship in the United States, but the book goes considerably beyond the specific issue of dual citizenship to deal generally with immigration policy and to ponder deeply the issue of what integration in a society means, what fosters it, what hinders it, and the relation of laws and regulations and policies regarding dual citizenship to this larger question of the making of Americans."—Nathan Glazer, professor of education and social structure, emeritus; Honorary Associate of Adams House, Harvard University

"In looking at the issue of how to cultivate a deep attachment to America in immigrants, and in natives, Renshon is addressing one of the most important problems facing our republic today. The question of dual citizenship and divided affections shows how fundamentally different immigration today is from the past, and policymakers would do well to study Renshon's ground-breaking exploration of this vital topic."—Mark Krikorian, executive director, Center for Immigration Studies

"Stanley Renshon draws on his formidable skills as both a political scientist and psychologist to illuminate questions that should be of deep concern to all of us. What does it mean to be an American? What are our obligations as citizens of the United States? What should we expect of newly-arrived immigrants who seek the privileges of citizenship? Should we allow dual citizenship, on the assumption that continuing to be a loyal citizen of Korea or Mexico is in no way incompatible with being a good American? Even a well-informed reader will find surprising information in The 50% American and powerful arguments conveyed in lucid, vigorous prose. With immigration issues looming large on the political horizon, this book could hardly be more timely."—Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Professor of History, Harvard University


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Stanley A. Renshon, a certified psychoanalyst, is a professor of political science at the City University of New York and coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Program in the Psychology of Social and Political Behavior in the university's Graduate Center. His thirteen books include In His Father's Shadow: The Transformation of George W. Bush and High Hopes: The Clinton Presidency and the Politics of Ambition, which won the American Political Science Association's Richard E. Neustadt Award for best book on the presidency and the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis' Gradiva Award for the best published biography.

296 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
3 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-067-3
Nov 2005

296 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
3 tables
Nov 2005

296 pp.
3 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-422-0
Nov 2005

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