There is little question that the descendants of the new European immigrant groups from Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe have done very well in the United States, reaching levels of achievement far above blacks. Yet the new Europeans began to migrate to the United States in 1880, a time when blacks were no longer slaves. Why have the new immigrants fared better than the blacks? This volume focuses on the historical origins of the current differences between the groups. Professor Lieberson scoured early U.S. censuses and used a variety of offbeat information sources to develop data that would throw light on this question, as well as provide new information on occupations at the turn of the century, finding remarkable parallels between the black position in the urban South and the urban North.He examines and compares progress in education and in politics between the new Europeans and the blacks. What were the effects of segregation? Why did labor unions discriminate more severely against blacks than against the new immigrant groups?
This book will generate a fresh interpretation of the origins of black-new European differences, one which explains why other nonwhite groups, such as the Chinese and Japanese, have done relatively well.
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(229mm x 152mm x 28mm)
University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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US Kirkus Review »
Are the urban blacks of today like the European immigrants of yesterday? When Nathan Glazer first suggested the comparison in the early 1970s, there was little clear evidence for or against, but since then leading historians such as Stephan Thernstrom, Herbert Gutman, and, more recently, Theodore Hershberg have demonstrated the essential invalidity of the comparison. Professor Lieberson (Sociology, Univ. of Arizona) here performs sophisticated statistical analysis of census and other material but fails to truly revive a rather dead question. Still, if it's data you're looking for, you'll find it. Lieberson shows first how blacks differed from the European immigrants in terms of access to governmental power and access to education. Regarding residential segregation, he finds that segregation per se has not increased so much as racial composition has changed, such that "One can interpret the changing patterns of black-white segregation not as an effort by whites to increase their segregation from blacks but merely to maintain it." And in employment he again finds like others before him that the unions for the most part closed their doors to the blacks - while opening new doors for the white immigrants. For such differences, Lieberson looks to social structural conditions (occupational opportunities, timing and flow of migration, level of segregation) and to race and discrimination, although he hesitates to emphasize any one factor. Regarding the question of race, for example, he states that while "the disposition to apply the same levels of legal protection and rights" to the various racial groups "was weaker than that directed toward white populations," the greatly-improved position of the Japanese and Chinese may just be related to the idea that "it is not impossible that whites have a hierarchy with respect to nonwhites such that blacks and Africans generally rank lower than Asian groups." The book's main conclusion is equally bland. While he judges it "a serious mistake" to underestimate the conditions European immigrants faced upon arrival, it is "equally erroneous to assume that the obstacles were as great as those faced by blacks or that the starting point was the same." No news isn't good news: it's no news, period. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Stanley Lieberson
Stanley Lieberson, Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona, is one of the leading scholars in the area of race and ethnic relations and has published extensively in the field.