Democratic principles, discrimination and political intolerance

J. Hurwitz, Jeffery J. Mondak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Political intolerance has typically been conceptualized as an unwillingness to extend expressive rights to disliked groups or individuals. One problem with this conceptualization is that, when a given percentage of individuals in a polity is found to be intolerant, it is not known if these respondents are intolerant because of the act or because of the actor. We conceptualize intolerance multidimensionally, making a distinction between generic and discriminatory intolerance; while the former stems from an unwillingness to permit the expressive act (such as holding a rally) regardless of the actor, the latter is reserved for an unwillingness to permit the act only when performed by a noxious group. Using data from the Multi-Investigator II Study (a national telephone survey of adults in the United States), we employed a split ballot technique to decompose the total proportion of intolerant respondents into groups whose intolerance stems from an aversion to the actor (discriminatory) versus those whose intolerance stems from an aversion to the act (generic). We further explored the genesis of intolerance, finding that the two types we identified stem from different antecedents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-118
Number of pages26
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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