• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent does the Conflict perspective on US history challenge the concept of American Exceptionalism?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent does the Conflict perspective on US history challenge the concept of American Exceptionalism? The USA is perhaps the only country in the world where by its own admission, citizenship is a state of mind. To explain this it is necessary to compare it to my own British citizenship. One of my grandfathers' hails from Northern Ireland, the other from Wales. The fact that I was born in England and my relatives are from other UK countries makes us all British. In the case of the US, being an American is not due to ethnic origin or place of birth, but a belief to a set of ideals and a constitution. In this sense it is possible for any American to stop being an American by not holding true to these ideals and the US itself. This is the basis for the concept of American Exceptionalism. It is also not difficult to see the economic, political and cultural factors which may be used in the argument for American Exceptionalism. Many Americans see the good fortune of their own country as putting it in the position of having a 'unique mission in the world'1. ...read more.

Middle

The other school of thinking is that of consensus theory, where history progresses through peaceful continuity; and politics are always consensual. It is now necessary to apply these perspectives to American history, see which is prevalent and if a synthesis between the two can be created, and then assess whether or not the idea of American Exceptionalism is viable given the contradiction of the conflict perspective. The key difficulty in using the conflict and consensus perspectives is that they can not be picked or chosen. The US historian Hartz undertook a study on US society. He found that the study "does not permit us to choose between "conflict" or "consensus"...American history contains both of these elements in the proportions which make it, in relation to other national histories, explicable"3 The first thing to be looked at is groups of people in the USA. Affiliations or member groups in the USA are interest groups. These fall into the conflict perspective as interest groups protect consumer rights and empower members. This does not challenge exceptionalism however as it demonstrates Americas pluralistic society in action, definitely a factor of American exceptionalism. ...read more.

Conclusion

American political traditions must be looked at using a synthesis of the two perspectives. Although there is clear conflict in politics, there is also a deeper consensus of opinion. Even though a synthesis of the two must be used, this definitely challenges American exceptionalism as all western liberal democracies are similar. In looking at the USA, it is clear to see that there are two different types of synthesis to be compiled from the conflict/consensus perspectives. The first is drawn from dealing with social structure and political groups. There may be visible conflict all the time but there is a deeper underlying consensus. This means that the ends are agreed upon but not the means, a superficial conflict. After looking at affiliated groups, history and the nature of change in the US I believe that it is more the other way around, that there has been an underlying conflict in US history, which is given the appearance of consensus due to compromise. This does challenge American exceptionalism, although not to the extent I originally believed. American politics, history and the bloody nature of change offer nothing to call different or exceptional in the world. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Introduction to American drama.

    In some ways, Miller resembles Clifford Odets: both are identified as radical, left-wing dramatists, although Odets was much more politically active than Miller. Miller's early success was in a genre of play classed as social drama. In this genre, some aspect of contemporary society, an 'issue' or 'social problem', is represented on stage.

  2. American History.

    Bacon's Rebellion - why did it occur? - Around the same time, Virginians also experienced conflict w/the Indians b/c of land, although the conflict played out slightly differently. After land-hungry Virginians attacked two Indians tribes, Indians raided outlying farms in retaliation in the winter of 1676.

  1. Russia: a Century of Upheaval.

    This disaster came in the form of war, when in 1905 Russia was thoroughly beaten by the armies of Japan. The troubles began on the 22nd January 1905, a day immortalised under the name of Bloody Sunday. A crowd of 200,000 workers convened on the streets of Petrograd, and headed

  2. Arab-Israeli Conflict 1948-1996.

    As the aim was to please both sides, the first agreement concerned the future of Sinai that was to be concluded and signed within three months. This accord was effective as it made each side compromise, encouraging the two nations to keep a lasting relationship in the future.

  1. The Arab-Israeli conflict.

    This put the Jews in a much physically powerful position than the Arabs. During this Arab revolt, attitudes of the British government began to change towards the Zionist project. A white paper stated that Britain did not support a separate Jewish State and neither a partitioned Palestine.

  2. Examine the main premises behind Eisenhower's concept of containment

    Foster-Dulles was in favour of this approach commenting on the need to give the Chinese "one hell of a licking"4. Ike soon changed his favour to what was to become a staple tactic of his, a public warning to the Chinese and Russians that America was prepared to move "decisively without inhibition" in their use of "weapons".

  1. Indian History. To what extent did large dams built before 1990 fulfil Nehru's ambitions?

    Nor, will it deal with extensive comparisons to other countries and time periods. Instead, it will investigate the extent to which large dams fulfilled Nehru's objectives in India during the period 1947-1990. Neither will it reflect the slanted discourse of the 1980s and 1990s that was characterised by dam opposition

  2. To what extent did the Vietnam War impact upon US domestic politics and society ...

    'Losing the Great Society was a terrible thought, but not so terrible as the thought of being responsible for America's losing a war to the Communists. Nothing could possibly be worse than that.' 2 This source is similar to the one before as it shows how US domestic politics was being affected by the war.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work