The Big Sort (by Bill Bishop)

The last book I finished was “The Big Sort,” by Bill Bishop.

I’ve been in a few discussions about it since, and loaned out my copy. I recommend it highly, and not just to those with an above-average interest in politics (from campaigns to public policy). While at may appear on the surface to be a basic analysis of recent and long term electoral trends and results, it’s also a very insightful, well documented and important look into surprising and dramatic changes that are transforming the American cultural landscape.

Mr. Bishop shows how we “have clustered in communities of sameness, among people with similar ways of life, beliefs and in the end, politics.” That may sound like a familiar, and perhaps obvious conclusion. But, while the basic theme runs through the book, it’s really where the interesting story begins.

It’s also well written and engaging throughout.

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From http://thebigsort.com:

This is the untold story of why America is so culturally and politically divided.

America may be more diverse than ever coast to coast, but the places where we live are becoming increasingly crowded with people who live, think, and vote like we do. This social transformation didn’t happen by accident. We’ve built a country where we can all choose the neighborhood and church and news show — most compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. And we are living with the consequences of this way-of-life segregation. Our country has become so polarized, so ideologically inbred, that people don’t know and can’t understand those who live just a few miles away. The reason for this situation, and the dire implications for our country, is the subject of this ground-breaking work.

In 2004, journalist Bill Bishop made national news in a series of articles when he first described “the big sort.” Armed with original and startling demographic data, he showed how Americans have been sorting themselves over the past three decades into homogeneous communities — not at the regional level, or the red-state/blue-state level, but at the micro level of city and neighborhood. In The Big Sort Bishop deepens his analysis in a brilliantly reported book that makes its case from the ground up, starting with stories about how we live today, and then drawing on history, economics, and our changing political landscape to create one of the most compelling big-picture accounts of America in recent memory.

The Big Sort will draw comparisons to Robert Putam’s Bowling Alone and Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class and will redefine the way Americans think about themselves for decades to come.

“In this important book, Bill Bishop shows us that the red state/blue state divide is real and it is not just the politicians who are responsible for it. One cannot fix a problem unless its root causes are clearly and accurately identified; and what Bishop has done is provide us with a necessary mirror so we can get about the business of becoming what we claim we want – a single nation with a politics marked not by rancor, but by civility.”

– Mickey Edwards, Princeton University, the Aspen Institute; author of “Reclaiming Conservatism.”

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One Response to “The Big Sort (by Bill Bishop)”

  1. Jessica Hibbard Says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. One of the things I like most about my neighborhood is that it seems to be quite diverse as far as ethnicity, age, and politics. I suppose most neighborhoods are pretty economically homogeneous, and I’m sure mine is not an exception there.

    I’ve read the Creative Class books with interest … What kind of comparisons does this author make to Richard Florida’s ideas?

    P.S. — Thanks for the link in your blogroll!

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