The Invention of Ethnicity in the U.S

The Invention of Ethnicity in the U.S

In The Invention of Ethnicity in the United States by authors Conzen, Gerber, Morawska, Pozzetta, and Vecoli, the authors explain the meaning of the word ‘ethnicity’ as an important concept in analyzing the process of immigrant adaption. At the beginning of the essay the authors talk about how anthropologists and sociologists, and how they themselves define ethnicity. Clifford Geertz and Harold Isaacs define ethnicity as “the basic group identity,” while Nathan Glazer and Daniel Moynihan define ethnicity as interest groups (10-11). The authors’s define ethnicity as a constructed by real life context and social experience (11). Through their definition, that means ethnicity is always changing in response to the reality/ situation of that group and that because of it ethnic traditions should regularly be reinterpreted. Through the ‘invention’ of ethnicity, this suggests that immigrants attempted to create their own niches in America be defining their group identities in comparison to other groups. Because ethnicity had become part of the American social thought (12), in a way newcomers had to place themselves within social orders that had been established by immigrants before them. Towards the end of the essay, the authors bring up that post-revolutionary Americans were forced with two issues concerning self identity, both related to the Revolution. The first problem with American self identity was the need to differentiate themselves from the British. The second was the need to bring together the states whose populations had different cultures and origins. The authors conclude by suggesting that a pluralist society was created out of ethnic interests intertwining with occupational and sectional interests among American political divisions (16).

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