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

By Patricia Boscia-Mulè | Go to book overview

Italians vs. Italians:
Intragroup Perceptions and Relations

In these pages, I will analyze some comments by my first- and second - generation respondents, which reveal their perceptions of other Italian Americans, and their assessments on the Italian ethnic group as a whole.

All comments provide valuable information for meeting one main purpose of this study: to assess--as much as the small sample size allows it--the nature and quality of Italian Americans' in-group relations, by reconstructing them through my respondents' eyes.

Such an approach, drawing conclusions on a group's social reality on the basis of subjective interpretations, may be charged with analytical shortcomings. I believe, however, that analysts of ethnic groups have relied too heavily on sources such as census data, large-scale surveys, or closed questionnaires to "measure" people's ethnic experiences, both private and social (public). This approach is bound to obscure the significance of subjectivity as a building block of social life. Objective methods of analysis cannot fully grasp the very essence, the spirit of ethnic community life, which is made up as much by people's cognitive and ideological stance vis-à-vis its practices as by their "measurable" enactment of those practices in the dynamics of social interaction.

Within this study's analytical framework, a subjective approach to in-group social life is justified on a few accounts:

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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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