Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology

By Gunnar Myrdal; Paul Streeten | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
FACETS OF THE NEGRO PROBLEM 1

1. AMERICAN MINORITIES 2

SEVERAL attempts have been made to see the American Negro problem as part of the wider problem of minorities in America. The aspirations of minorities in the United States of America are different from those of minorities in Europe, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. In America, minority groups are fighting for status in the larger society; in Europe they claim independence from it, and self- determination. Immigrants into America were eager to give up their language and other cultural heritages, and to adopt the ways of their new mother country. The American Creed denounces suppression and discrimination, affirms human equality, and, until recently, welcomed the immigrant minority groups.

In addition to cultural differences, there were also class differences of immigrants. They tended to be poorer than those already settled. Yet, their children and grandchildren were assimilated with astonishing success. The American educational system contributed to these adjustments. But perhaps even more important is the influence on the immigrant of the great national ethos, in which optimism and carelessness, generosity and callousness, are blended to give him hope and endurance.

The social scientist is also interested in the failures of the process of assimilation, and the tensions it creates. Class stratification still corresponds closely to national groups. The split of the nation into a dominant 'American' group, and a

____________________
1
The following Chapter is a combination of summaries of sections of Chapter 3 of An American Dilemma and direct quotations from the same chapter. It also incorporates summaries of some discussions from other parts of the book.
2
Summary of An American Dilemma, Chapter 3, pp. 50-53.

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Value in Social Theory: A Selection of Essays on Methodology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • Part 1 1
  • Chapter Two - The Relation Between Social Theory and Social Policy 9
  • Part 2 55
  • Chapter Four - American Ideals and The American Conscience 65
  • Chapter Five - Valuations and Bbliefs 71
  • Chapter Six - Encountering the Negro Problem 89
  • Chapter Seven Facts and Valuations 119
  • Chapter Eight - Facets of the Negro Problem 165
  • Chapter Nine - The Principle of Cumulation 198
  • Part 3 206
  • Chapter Eleven - The Logical Crux of All Science 231
  • Postscript 237
  • Index 263
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