Radical Sociology

By J. David Colfax; Jack L. Roach | Go to book overview

(4)
Conventional Social Science
and Racial Integration

L. PAUL METZGER


INTRODUCTION

The belief in racial integration as a solution to America's racial problem has been extremely widespread among social scientists over the past twenty-five years. This paper reviews the conventional social science position on racial integration, argues that it minimizes the obstacles to racial equalization in American society as presently organized, and on these grounds, finds it inadequate as a strategy for the current black struggle.

As usually defined, the minorities problem in the United States is the problem of incorporating peoples of diverse ethnic and racial background into the "American Way of Life." The goal is assimilation; the means is providing adequate opportunity for each individual to move into the mainstream; the problem comes in assuring that the individual's opportunities are not limited by his ethnic or racial heritage; and if the latter condition is met, assimilation is viewed as an embodiment of the democratic process. That this conception of the minorities problem, and of a democratic solution to it, are by no means universally shared by both minorities and majorities in other societies has been frequently noted; 1 Myrdal wrote in 1944, for example, that "the minority peoples of the United States are fighting for status in the larger society; the minorities of Europe are mainly fighting for independence from it." 2

In view of the fact that assimilationist policies bore the stigma of association with tyranny and absolutism in Eastern and Central Europe, and that the right of national self-determination played a large role in

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