Authentic Ethnicities: The Interaction of Ideology, Gender Power, and Class in the Italian-American Experience

By Patricia Boscia-Mulè | Go to book overview

3
Perspectives on Ethnicity

Much work on ethnicity has centered on the future of ethnic groups and cultures. Frequently, this has turned into a polemical debate between the pluralist and the assimilationist perspectives. Against the latter, which emphasizes the gradual but inevitable fading of past cultural distinctions, the pluralist stance claims evidence of its resilience through the years. Since the 1970s the debate has been given new impetus by what has appeared as a new ethnic consciousness among many racial and ethnic groups in our nation as well as in others. Scholars from various disciplines have attempted to interpret its authenticity, meaning, functions, and dysfunctions.

Backing the assimilationist and pluralist positions are a number of theories on the nature of ethnicity itself, and on the significance of tradition for individuals and groups.

The assimilationist view rests on a markedly structural stance, which relegates ethnicity and tradition to the periphery of economic and demographic processes. The claimed waning of ethnic attachments is seen as the inevitable outcome of structural changes--residential dispersion, upward mobility, generational succession ( Crispino , 1980; Gans, 1979; Steinberg, 1981; Alba, 1985; Sandberg, 1974).

Supporting this claim is the view of American society as an open system, but one in which individual success necessarily

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Authentic Ethnicities: The Interaction of Ideology, Gender Power, and Class in the Italian-American Experience
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Study Design 7
  • 3 - Perspectives on Ethnicity 13
  • 4 - The Meaning of Familism 27
  • 5 - Tradition and Family Dynamics: Redefining Women's Domestic Power 47
  • Italians Vs. Italians: Intragroup Perceptions and Relations 69
  • 7 - Gender Differences in Social Behavior 101
  • 8 - A Look at the Third Generation 127
  • 9 - Conclusion 157
  • Notes 165
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 175
  • About the Author 181
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