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Japanese American Ethnicity

The Persistence of Community

edited by Stephen S. Fugita and David J. O'Brien

Publication Year: 1991

Why do some groups retain their ethnicity as they become assimilated into mainstream American life while others do not? This study employs both historical sources and contemporary survey data to explain the seeming paradox of why Japanese Americans have maintained high levels of ethnic community involvement while becoming structurally assimilated.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 3-13

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. most scholars saw ethnicity as a relic of traditional society which would wane in the face of the forces of modernization. From this perspective, ethnicity was viewed as the embodiment of traditional primordial relationships...

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1. Approaches to the Study of the Persistence of Ethnicity

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pp. 14-28

The ability of Japanese Americans to retain substantial involvement in ethnic community life while also experiencing a high level of structural assimilation into the mainstream of American society poses some serious analytical problems for traditional approaches to ethnicity. Theories of ethnicity have been largely dominated by a concern with the...

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2. The Structure of Social Relationships among Japanese Americans

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pp. 29-46

In this chapter we will explore the historical, cultural, and social organizational factors contributing to the persistence of individual involvement in Japanese American community life despite high levels of structural assimilation. We will argue that although contemporary Japanese American social organization has been significantly influenced by adaptations...

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3. The Petit Bourgeois Economic Accommodation

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pp. 47-62

In Chapter 2 we examined how Japanese ways of structuring social relationships affected the overall accommodation of the Issei immigrants. and their descendants, to American society in the early twentieth century. This chapter will focus on how these factors affected their economic accommodation. Specifically, we will examine how characteristic...

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4. The California Survey

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pp. 63-75

The origins of the California-based survey of Japanese Americans conducted in 1979-80 are found in the earlier work of one of the coauthors of this book, Stephen Fugita. He became interested in a conflict between the predominantly Mexican, Mexican American, and Filipino United Farm Workers Union and the Japanese American-dominated...

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5. Early Socialization Experiences of Nisei and Sansei

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pp. 76-94

Much of the research on Japanese Americans done from either the assimilationist or structural perspective has focused on comparing the more visible elements of acculturation and assimilation across generations (e.g., Bonacich and Modell. 1980; Connor, 1977; Levine and Rhodes. 1981; Montero, 1980). Substantial differences between Nisei and...

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6. Friendship and Voluntary Association Membership in Ethnic and Nonethnic Communities

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pp. 95-117

As noted in Chapter I, the linear assimilationist and structural approaches to ethnicity suggest that there is essentially a substitutive or zero-sum relationship between ethnic group membership retention and structural assimilation. We have proposed that Japanese Americans do not...

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7. Economic Acitivities and Networks

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pp. 118-129

As noted in Chapter 3. historically the most distinctive economic characteristic of Japanese Americans has been their disproportionate involvement in petit bourgeois activities which have been supported by the ethnic community. Not only did the ethnic community provide customers but the businesses themselves were organized and rationalized...

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8. Intermarriage

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pp. 130-140

In the three preceding chapters we have shown that Japanese Americans, by and large, have been able to build bridges to the majority group, establishing many kinds of contacts with Caucasians without destroying their ethnic community life. One might argue, however, that with the exception of the "best friends" measure, most of the evidence...

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9. Political Attitudes and Participation

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pp. 141-164

In the preceding chapters we have presented evidence about the unique historical experiences and contemporary situation of Japanese Americans in relation to other ethnic groups. In this chapter we will turn our attention to the implications of this for the participation of Japanese...

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10. Persistence and Change in Perceived Social Boundaries

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pp. 165-177

Barth (1969) and Alba (1985) point out that assimilation can be analytically viewed from either an individualistic or a social boundary perspective. In the first case, the emphasis is on understanding the individual's position in relation to the boundaries separating two groups. By and large, this has been the focus of our analysis so far. We have empirically...

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11. The Japanese American Experience and Understanding Ethnicity in the Modern World

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pp. 178-185

The central theoretical focus of this book has been the relationship between the degree of structural assimilation of an ethnic group, in this case second and third generation Japanese Americans, and the group's cohesiveness. Historically, most social scientists have assumed that these two dimensions are directly and inversely related. For...


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pp. 187-204


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pp. 205-207

E-ISBN-13: 9780295801834
E-ISBN-10: 0295801832
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295973760
Print-ISBN-10: 0295973765

Publication Year: 1991