55 pages 1 hour read

Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2018

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Part 3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “How Did We Get Here?”

Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary: “The Polarization Cycle”

College students report that the attitudes and beliefs of a new viewpoint, safetyism, “sweep through many universities between 2013 and 2017” (125). Six factors in society push this trend: political polarization; anxiety and depression; helicopter parenting; “the decline of free play; the growth of campus bureaucracy; and a rising passion for justice” (125). They add up in different ways for different people, and all stem from good intentions. These factors are explored in Part 3 of this book.

Although liberal-versus-conservative issues are involved, “the debate on campus is largely a debate within the left” (127) that pits older, free-speech progressives against younger progressives who favor inclusion over speech. A rise in political polarization in America exacerbates campus tensions. Since 2004, the distance on key issues between the two main political parties has more than doubled, while feelings of approval for the opposite party have dropped from the mid-forty-percent range to the mid-twenties.

A second reason for polarization is that “Americans have been increasingly self-segregating into politically homogeneous communities” (130), so that as “the Republican Party becomes disproportionately older, white, rural, male, and Christian, the Democratic Party is increasingly young, nonwhite, urban, female, and nonreligious” (130).