From outlawing polygamy and mandating public education to protecting the rights of minorities, the framing of group life by the state has been a subject of considerable interest and controversy throughout the history of the United States. The subject continues to be important in many countries. This book deals with state responses to cultural difference through the examination of a number of encounters between individuals, groups, and the state, in the United States and elsewhere. The book opens the concepts of groups and the state, arguing for the complexity of their relations and interpenetrations. Carol Weisbrod draws on richly diverse historical and cultural material to explore various structures that have been seen as appropriate for adjusting relations between states and internal groups. She considers the experience of the Mormons, the Amish, and Native Americans in the United States, the Mennonites in Germany, and the Jews in Russia to illustrate arrangements and accommodations in different times and places.
The Minorities Treaties of the League of Nations, political federalism, religious exemptions, nonstate schools, and rules about adoption are among the mechanisms discussed that sustain cultural difference and create frameworks for group life, and, finally, individual life. At bottom, "Emblems of Pluralism" concerns not only relations between the state and groups, public and private, but also issues of identity and relations between the self and others.