The American Class Structure

By Joseph A. Kahl | Go to book overview
tion of white ethnics, whereas they work in contradictory ways with respect to the assimilation of Negroes, for the economic variables are improving their position, whereas the interaction variables are holding them apart. In the sphere of values, whites are caught up in the contradiction. It is Myrdal's central thesis that although the values of many Americans concerning their personal integrity and self-enhancement lead to segregation, the values of the American creed emphasize equality of opportunity for all individuals.The vast European immigration, and more recently the urbanization of the Negro, have had great effects upon class structure. They have provided every generation of Americans with a new group coming into the urban stratification order at the bottom. This pushed up the older residents, allowing them to don white collars while they directed the labor of the newcomers. Furthermore, the newcomers have provided lower-class old-timers with a group they could look down upon and thus gain a feeling of superiority. Finally, the second generation of immigrant children could always remember how far they had advanced over their foreign parents. All these factors together have caused great actual mobility and even greater perceptions of mobility among Americans [34].
REFERENCES
Reprinted by permission of the publishers from Oscar Handlin, The American People in the Twentieth Century ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Copyright, 1954, by The President and Fellows of Harvard College), p. 88.
The estimate for 1820 to 1930 is by Professor Wilcox of the National Bureau of Economic Research, reported in Maurice R. Davie, World Immigration ( New York: Macmillan, 1936), p. 12. I have added the approximately one million arrivals since 1930, and the one million before 1820. Davie's book is a useful source with material on all the major immigrant groups to the U.S.; a more recent treatment is Donald R. Taft and Richard Robbins, International Migrations ( New York: Ronald, 1955). An excellent shorter treatment is William S. Bernard, ed., American Immigration Policy ( New York: Harper, 1950).
Estimates based on the family names that appeared in the first census in 1790; see Davie, World Immigration, p. 44.
Ibid., p. 53. These are figures for in-migration; as many as a third of these people eventually returned to Europe.
U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1955 ( Washington: Government Printing Office, 1955), Table 109, p. 97. See also ibid., Table 102, and Bernard, American Immigration Policy, Chap. II.
Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1955, Table 30, p. 36.

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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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