The American Class Structure

By Joseph A. Kahl | Go to book overview

VIII
Ethnic and Race Barriers

WITH EVERY PHASE OF THE PRODUCTIVE SYSTEM EXPANDING, OUTSIDERS WERE CONTINUALLY PUSHING IN. THE NEWCOMERS HAD ALWAYS THE ATTRACTION OF WILLINGNESS TO WORK AT MINIMAL WAGES IN ORDER TO GET ESTABLISHED AND THEIR PRESSURE WAS DIFFICULT TO RESIST. SO THE IRISH WHO HAD MANNED THE NEW ENGLAND TEXTILE MILLS INEXORABLY GAVE WAY TO THE MORE RECENT IMMIGRANTS; ITALIANS, PORTUGUESE, ARMENIANS AND FRENCH-CANADIANS EDGED IN AS PICKERS AND SWEEPERS, AND SOON WERE EVERYWHERE IN THE PLANT. . . . THE SPREAD OF EDUCATION ENABLED THE SONS OF LABORERS TO COMPETE FOR SITUATIONS WITH THE SONS OF MEN HIGHER IN THE OCCUPATIONAL SCALE; THE SCHOOLS DISTRIBUTED THE COMMAND OF LANGUAGE, THE PRACTICAL SKILLS, AND THE WISH TO PUSH UPWARD. ALL THESE FACTORS LESSENED THE IMPORTANCE OF INHERITED ADVANTAGES. Oscar Handlin [1]

IT HAS BEEN EMPHASIZED that men evaluate one another in terms of group values; individuals are considered worthy of deference if their behavior exemplifies the ideals of their culture. In ordinary circumstances a man cannot be a model citizen if he is not thoroughly familiar with the culture, and this is not possible if he has not grown up in it. Most groups distrust outsiders and even before they have observed them sufficiently, assume that they will not behave as well as group members. Consequently, outsiders are devalued and granted low prestige.

The outsider has other disadvantages. Not being familiar with all the intricacies of the local culture, he is less likely to have occupational skills that will earn him a high income. He will not have friends and relatives in high places who can assist his career. He will not have a family name that bestows prestige through the halo effect of noteworthy ancestors.

Each of those disadvantages can be great or small, depending upon the circumstances. If the outsider is a well-trained physician who comes to a backward community that desperately needs medical service, he is likely to be honored. If he is an ambitious farm boy who moves to a city in his own nation, and shows great ability in business and complete respectability in his personal behavior, he can, through time, earn

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The American Class Structure
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Tables xvii
  • Figures xviii
  • I - The Dimensions of Class 1
  • References 16
  • II - Position and Prestige 19
  • Conclusions 47
  • References 49
  • III - Occupational Prestige and Social Change 53
  • Conclusions 85
  • References 87
  • IV - Income, Wealth, and Style of Life 91
  • Conclusions 119
  • References 122
  • V - The Web of Interaction 127
  • Conclusions 153
  • References 154
  • VI - Class Consciousness and Political Ideology 157
  • Conclusions 180
  • References 181
  • VII - Classes as Ideal Types: Emergent Values 184
  • Conclusions 215
  • References 218
  • VIII - Ethnic and Race Barriers 221
  • Conclusions 247
  • References 248
  • IX - Succession and Mobility: the Occupational Base 251
  • Conclusions 271
  • References 272
  • X - Succession and Mobility: Motivation and Education 276
  • Conclusions 293
  • References 294
  • Index 301
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