Japanese American Ethnicity: The Persistence of Community

Japanese American Ethnicity: The Persistence of Community

Japanese American Ethnicity: The Persistence of Community

Japanese American Ethnicity: The Persistence of Community

Synopsis

The authors present the results of their two-generation survey of 634 Japanese-American men in three settings in California. Their basic thesis is that the maintenance of ethnic community solidarity, the process of assimilation, and the reactions of an ethnic group to outside forces must be understood in light of the internal social organization of the ethnic group, which can be traced to core cultural orientations that predate immigration. The long history of a nation- state helped the Japanese immigrants maintain the sense of peoplehood. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most scholars saw ethnicity as a relic of traditional society which would wane in the face of the forces of modernization. From this perspective, ethnicity was viewed as the embodiment of traditional primordial relationships that would be replaced by more utilitarian forms of association, such as those of the marketplace or bureaucracy (Glazer and Moynihan, 1975).

Since the end of World War II, however, we have witnessed the persistence and, in a number of instances, an actual revival of ethnicity as a significant form of identification and attachment even in the most advanced industrialized societies. Scholars have, quite correctly, pointed out that this phenomenon can be accounted for in large measure by the political utility of ethnicity in the modern state. In some instances ethnicity has become a catalyst to reinforce existing class identifications and in other instances it serves as a basis for collective mobilization when no other exists (Glazer and Moynihan, 1975; Nielsen, 1985; Olzak, 1983).

There is, nonetheless, a limitation to the preceding explanation in that it does not account for the substantial variations in the retention of ethnicity in the same society. In particular, the question remaining to be answered is: why are some groups apparently more successful than others . . .

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