From Immigrants to Ethnics: Toward a New Theory of 'Ethnicization'

By Jonathan D. Sarna

Academic Press, 1978

The author contrasts the fragmented nature of immigrant groups upon their arrival in America with the social and cultural unities found among ethnic groups years later. He explains this change-the process of "ethnicization" -as a consequence of two factors: ascription and adversity. Outside institutions ascribed ethnic identity for practical reasons: village loyalties were too complicated to be understood. Immigrant institutions had equally practical motivations for furthering the same end: defense in the face of adversity. Viewed from this perspective it becomes clear that the melting pot was not, as commonly assumed, a failure. It succeeded in transforming weak, fragmented and unclassified bundles of immigrants into self-conscious, active, and easily identifiable ethnic groups. This model serves equally well if applied to the WASP. Today, "WASP-ishness" is only an ascribed mystique. In the face of adversity, however, it is quite possible that WASPs will undergo" ethnicization." They may unite, organize, and make demands.

Topic: Immigration, Jewish Identity, Community Relations, Ethnicity, Assimilation, Identity

Name of Publication: Ethnicity

Volume/Issue: 5

Page Number(s): 370-378

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Genre: Scholarly Journal

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Sarna, Jonathan D. From Immigrants to Ethnics: Toward a New Theory of 'Ethnicization'. Ethnicity. Academic Press. 1978: 370-378.


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