Love and hate: Anti -Americanism and the American world order
This project investigates the perceptions of the United States in the mass publics in eight predominantly Islamic countries in the Middle East and South Asia and in six European countries in the spring and summer of 2002. Using a Bayesian Multi-level Item Response Theory (IRT) Model, it identifies two underlying dimensions in the attitudes towards the United States: attitudes towards American culture and society and attitudes towards American policies. These two attitudinal dimensions form the basis for an investigation of the belief systems about America in the Islamic world and in Europe.
This study shows that large portions of survey respondents speak of America with two minds: appreciatively when they are induced to invoke aspects of America's polity and negatively when they are asked to focus on America's foreign policy. Ambivalence, and not consistency, is a defining feature of the mind frame through which general publics relate to America. These findings imply that the popular approval of the American political ideals—America's soft power—does not guarantee approval of America's political choices in the international arena. Nonetheless, while admiration for American political and societal ideal is not per se sufficient to foster a positive outlook on America's diplomacy, it creates the conditions under which such positive assessment can emerge.
The relevance of this result is corroborated by the empirical evidence regarding the sources of anti-Americanism. Regardless of whether they entertain economic, military or cultural connections to America, the countries analyzed in this study do not distinguish themselves as more prone to fall prey to anti-American sentiment. A large set of individual characteristics, on the other hand, was found to be systematically associated with popular anti-Americanism. In other words, far from being an unpredictable attitudinal stance, linked to the imponderable emotional reactions of envy or resentment, popular anti-Americanism appears to be a societal phenomenon in which political socialization and political attentiveness play a major role.
0616: International relations