Pew: The United States, France and Korea are the most divided, especially on …… | News and reports
“Conflict” is a troublesome word to describe a company. But more and more in advanced global economies – and particularly in the United States – their companies believe this is the right label.
If there is any good news, the religious conflict is lagging behind.
The Pew Research Center surveyed nearly 19,000 people in 17 countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific last spring on their perceptions of conflict in four categories: between political parties, between different races. and ethnicities, between different religions and between towns and rural communities.
The United States is either the top or the top in each.
A global median of 50% sees political conflict, 48% racial conflict, 36% religious conflict and 23% urban-rural conflict.
But in the United States, 9 in 10 considered the political conflict to be “serious” or “very serious”.
Asian nations varied widely. South Korea tied the United States at 90 percent in seeing serious political bias, with Taiwan third at 69 percent. Singapore was the lowest overall at 33 percent, while Japan was 39 percent.
France (65%), Italy (64%), Spain (58%) and Germany (56%) followed Taiwan.
In terms of race, the United States again ranked first, with 71% of serious conflicts. France was second at 64 percent, and South Korea and Italy third at 57 percent. Singapore again ranked last, at 25 percent.
South Korea had the highest perception of religious conflict, at 61%. France followed at 56% and the United States at 49%. Germany and Belgium registered 46 percent each. Taiwan was the lowest at 12%.
Nearly one in four French people (23%) considered religious conflicts to be “very serious”.
Religious diversity, however, is not a consistent indicator of conflict.
Pew estimates that France is 58% Christian and 8% Muslim. South Korea is 30% Christian and 22% Buddhist. Yet the United States is 76% Christian and 1% Muslim.
The three lowest perceptions of religious conflict are also across the spectrum. Taiwan (12%) has 44% popular religions, 21% Buddhists, 15% others and 6% Christians. Singapore (21%) is 32% Buddhist, 18% Christian, 16% Muslim, 9% other and 7% Hindu. However, Spain (19%) is 75% Christian and 3% Muslim.
Pew also tracked the perception of religious conflict between religious and non-religious, and in each nation the percentage of “unaffiliated” is significant. The overall difference in perception was negligible, however, except in some subcategories.
Half of conservatives in the United States perceived conflict between religious and non-religious, compared with just 39% between religious groups. The political right in Germany, Canada and Italy had similar perceptions. In Sweden, the only statistically significant difference was found on the political left, among which 26% perceive interfaith conflict but only 12% perceive secular conflict.
Politics infuriates perceptions at all levels.
In the United States, Democrats and those with Democratic leanings have a 24% difference in their perception of racial conflict compared to corresponding Republicans. The racial division is less severe, with Blacks perceiving conflict at 82%, Hispanics at 70%, and Whites at 69%.
Democratic affiliation also creates a difference in the perception of religious conflict (+ 17%) and urban-rural conflict (+ 10%). Tellingly, there is no difference between political parties in the perception of political conflict (90% each). And more than half (54%) of Americans considered this conflict “very strong”.
France has a similar political polarization. Its biggest gap lies in the perception of racial conflict, where 22 percentage points separate the center-right Republicans (76%) and the ruling En March (54%).
Socialists, however, are the outliers in politics and religion. They lag Republicans (67%) by 20 percentage points in their perception of religious conflict. But they are ahead of En March (57%) by 14 percentage points in their perception of the political conflict.
In Singapore, however, where the People’s Action Party has 89 percent political representation, differences in perception are shaped instead by ethnicity and religion. Indians recognize political (49% against 28%), ethnic (46% against 18%) and religious (35% against 14%) conflicts more easily than their Chinese fellow citizens.
Muslims in Singapore, on the other hand, recognize ethnic (40% versus 23% versus 14%) and religious (36% versus 20% versus 11%) conflicts more easily than Buddhists and Christians in the city-state.
Pew tested two factors that can contribute to the general feeling of conflict. A global median of 61% believes COVID-19 has made their societies more politically divided. And a global median of 39% thinks most people disagree on the basic facts. The highest are France (61%), the United States (59%), Italy and Spain (55% each).
Measuring the four conflict zones on a 4-point scale, the United States scored 2.85. South Korea got 2.83 and France 2.72. Singapore was the lowest at 2.13.
Yet despite the recognition of widespread conflict, there may be more good news, depending on the perspective. All over the world, more and more people are expressing their support for diversity.
A global median of 76% thinks that having people from many different ethnic groups, religions and races makes their society a better place to live. Sentiment is strongest in Singapore (92%), New Zealand (88%), Canada (86%), United States (85%), United Kingdom (85%) and Australia ( 85%).
Only Greece (51%) and Japan (50%) think it makes their society worse. South Korea is in third place (36%).
But the negative sentiment is changing. In the 11 countries where this question was also asked in 2017, 9 countries saw their support increase. Greece has climbed 24 percentage points over the past four years, Japan by 15 percentage points and South Korea by 6 percentage points.
Pew noted three indicators of disproportionate support: identification with the political left; the conviction that the economy is doing well; and youth.
Among the latter, the generation gap is clear. Those aged 18-29 in Italy (84%) express their support for diversity 33 percentage points more than those aged 65 and over (51%). In France, the age difference is 30 points (83% against 53%), while in Japan it is 28 points (60% against 32%).
Those who view diversity negatively tend to associate with the populist right. Supporters of the Swedish Democrats are 41 percentage points higher for the “unfavorable” (89%) than the rest of society (48%). Supporters of the Alternative for Germany are 32 percentage points higher (76% vs. 44%), as are members of the Italian Lega (73% vs. 41%).
“Along with a growing openness to diversity, it is recognized that societies may not be living up to their ideals,” Pew researchers said. “[But] overall, fewer people see strong religious conflict.