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American Indians

The First of This Land

Native Americans are too few in number to swing presidential elections, affect national statistics, or attract consistent media attention. But their history illuminates our collective past and their current disadvantaged status reflects our problematic present. In American Indians: The First of This Land, C. Matthew Snipp provides an unrivaled chronicle of the position of American Indians and Alaskan Natives within the larger American society.

Taking advantage of recent Census Bureau efforts to collect high-quality data for these groups, Snipp details the composition and characteristics of native Indian and Alaskan populations. His analyses of housing, family structure, language use and education, socioeconomic status, migration, and mortality are based largely on unpublished material not available in any other single source. He catalogs the remarkable diversity of a population—Eskimos, Aleuts, and numerous Indian tribes—once thought doomed to extinction but now making a dramatic comeback, exceeding 1 million for the first time in 300 years. Also striking is the pervasive influence of the federal bureaucracy on the social profile of American Indians, a profile similar at times to that of Third World populations in terms of literacy, income, and living conditions.

Comparisons with black and white Americans throughout this study place its findings in perspective and confirm its stature as a benchmark volume. American Indians offers an unsurpassed overview of a minority group that is deeply embedded in American folklore, the first of this land historically but now among the last in its socioeconomic hierarchy.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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American Memories

Atrocities and the Law

In the long history of warfare and cultural and ethnic violence, the twentieth century was exceptional for producing institutions charged with seeking accountability or redress for violent offenses and human rights abuses across the globe, often forcing nations to confront the consequences of past atrocities. The Holocaust ended with trials at Nuremberg, apartheid in South Africa concluded with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Gacaca courts continue to strive for closure in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Despite this global trend toward accountability, American collective memory appears distinct in that it tends to glorify the nation’s past, celebrating triumphs while eliding darker episodes in its history. In American Memories, sociologists Joachim Savelsberg and Ryan King rigorously examine how the United States remembers its own and others’ atrocities and how institutional responses to such crimes, including trials and tribunals, may help shape memories and perhaps impede future violence. American Memories uses historical and media accounts, court records, and survey research to examine a number of atrocities from the nation’s past, including the massacres of civilians by U.S. military in My Lai, Vietnam, and Haditha, Iraq. The book shows that when states initiate responses to such violence—via criminal trials, tribunals, or reconciliation hearings—they lay important groundwork for how such atrocities are viewed in the future. Trials can serve to delegitimize violence—even by a nation’s military— by creating a public record of grave offenses. But the law is filtered by and must also compete with other institutions, such as the media and historical texts, in shaping American memory. Savelsberg and King show, for example, how the My Lai slayings of women, children, and elderly men by U.S. soldiers have been largely eliminated from or misrepresented in American textbooks, and the army’s reputation survived the episode untarnished. The American media nevertheless evoked the killings at My Lai in response to the murder of twenty-four civilian Iraqis in Haditha, during the war in Iraq. Since only one conviction was obtained for the My Lai massacre, and convictions for the killings in Haditha seem increasingly unlikely, Savelsberg and King argue that Haditha in the near past is now bound inextricably to My Lai in the distant past. With virtually no criminal convictions, and none of higher ranks for either massacre, both events will continue to be misrepresented in American memory. In contrast, the book examines American representations of atrocities committed by foreign powers during the Balkan wars, which entailed the prosecution of ranking military and political leaders. The authors analyze news accounts of the war’s events and show how articles based on diplomatic sources initially cast Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in a less negative light, but court-based accounts increasingly portrayed Milosevic as a criminal, solidifying his image for the public record. American Memories provocatively suggests that a nation’s memories don’t just develop as a rejoinder to events—they are largely shaped by institutions. In the wake of atrocities, how a state responds has an enduring effect and provides a moral framework for whether and how we remember violent transgressions. Savelsberg and King deftly show that such responses can be instructive for how to deal with large-scale violence in the future, and hopefully how to deter it.

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American Neighborhoods and Residential Differentiation

Residential patterns are reflections of social structure; to ask, "who lives in which neighborhoods," is to explore a sorting-out process that is based largely on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and life cycle characteristics.

This benchmark volume uses census data, with its uniquely detailed information on small geographic areas, to bring into focus the familiar yet often vague concept of neighborhood. Michael White examines nearly 6,000 census tracts (approximating neighborhoods) in twenty-one representative metropolitan areas, from Atlanta to Salt Lake City, Newark to San Diego. The availability of statistics spanning several decades and covering a wide range of demographic characteristics (including age, race, occupation, income, and housing quality) makes possible a rich analysis of the evolution and implications of differences among neighborhoods.

In this complex mosaic, White finds patterns and traces them over time—showing, for example, how racial segregation has declined modestly while socioeconomic segregation remains constant, and how population diffusion gradually affects neighborhood composition. His assessment of our urban settlement system also illuminates the social forces that shape contemporary city life and the troubling policy issues that plague it.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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The American Non-Dilemma

Racial Inequality Without Racism

The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s seemed to mark a historical turning point in advancing the American dream of equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of race. Yet 50 years on, racial inequality remains a troubling fact of life in American society and its causes are highly contested. In The American Non-dilemma, sociologist Nancy DiTomaso convincingly argues that America’s enduring racial divide is sustained more by whites’ preferential treatment of members of their own social networks than by overt racial discrimination. Drawing on research from sociology, political science, history, and psychology, as well as her own interviews with a cross-section of non-Hispanic whites, DiTomaso provides a comprehensive examination of the persistence of racial inequality in the post-Civil Rights era. DiTomaso sets out to answer a fundamental question: if overt institutionalized racism has largely receded in the United States, why does racial inequality remain a national problem? Taking Gunnar Myrdal’s classic work on America’s racial divide, The American Dilemma, as her departure point, DiTomaso focuses on “the white side of the race line.” To do so, she interviewed a sample of working-class whites about their life histories, political views, and general outlook on racial inequality in America. She finds that while the vast majority of whites profess strong support for civil rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, they continue to pursue their own group-based advantage, especially in the labor market. This “opportunity hoarding,” as DiTomaso calls it, leads to substantially improved life outcomes for whites due to their greater access to social resources from family, neighborhoods, schools, churches, and other institutions with which they are engaged. At the same time, the subjects of her study continue to harbor strong reservations about public policies—such as affirmative action—intended to ameliorate racial inequality. In effect, they accept the principles of civil rights but not the implementation of policies that would bring about greater racial equality. DiTomaso also examines how whites understand the persistence of racial inequality in a society where whites are, on average, the advantaged racial group. Most whites see themselves as part of the solution rather than part of the problem with regard to racial inequality, but, due to the unacknowledged favoritism they demonstrate toward other whites, DiTomaso finds that they are at best uncertain allies in the fight for racial inequality. Weaving together research on both race and class, along with the life experiences of DiTomaso’s interview subjects, The American Non-dilemma provides a compelling exploration of how racial inequality is reproduced in today’s society, how people come to terms with the issue in their day-to-day experiences, and what these trends may signify in the contemporary political landscape.

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The American People

Census 2000

For more than 200 years, America has turned to the decennial census to answer questions about itself. More than a mere head count, the census is the authoritative source of information on where people live, the types of families they establish, how they identify themselves, the jobs they hold, and much more. The latest census, taken at the cusp of the new millennium, gathered more information than ever before about Americans and their lifestyles. The American People, edited by respected demographers Reynolds Farley and John Haaga, provides a snapshot of those findings that is at once analytically rich and accessible to readers at all levels.

The American People addresses important questions about national life that census data are uniquely able to answer. Mary Elizabeth Hughes and Angela O'Rand compare the educational attainment, economic achievement, and family arrangements of the baby boom cohort with those of preceding generations. David Cotter, Joan Hermsen, and Reeve Vanneman find that, unlike progress made in previous decades, the 1990s were a time of stability—and possibly even retrenchment—with regard to gender equality. Sonya Tafoya, Hans Johnson, and Laura Hill examine a new development for the census in 2000: the decision to allow people to identify themselves by more than one race. They discuss how people form multiracial identities and dissect the racial and ethnic composition of the roughly seven million Americans who chose more than one racial classification. Former Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt discusses the importance of the census to democratic fairness and government efficiency, and notes how the high stakes accompanying the census count (especially the allocation of Congressional seats and federal funds) have made the census a lightening rod for criticism from politicians.

The census has come a long way since 1790, when U.S. Marshals setout on horseback to count the population. Today, it holds a wealth of information about who we are, where we live, what we do, and how much we have changed. The American People provides a rich, detailed examination of the trends that shape our lives and paints a comprehensive portrait of the country we live in today.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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The American School Counselor

A Case Study in the Sociology of Professions

A comprehensive case study of secondary school counseling as a developing profession. The author examines the growth of counseling, the characteristics of the contemporary counselor, the use of standardized tests, the changing orientation of the counselor from “educational advisor” to “therapist,” the influences of the institutional setting on counseling, and the impact of counseling on students and society.

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American Women in Transition

This is the first in a series of eighteen projected volumes, to be published over the next two years, aimed at converting the vast statistical yield of the 1980 Census into authoritative analyses of major changes and trends in American life. A collaborative research effort, funded by public and private foundations, this series revives a tradition of independent Census analysis (the last such project was undertaken in 1960) and offers an unparalleled array of studies on various ethnic, geographic, and status dimensions of the U.S. population.

It is entirely appropriate that the inaugural volume in this series should document trends in the status of American women. Dramatic social and demographic changes over the past two decades make American Women in Transition a landmark, an invaluable one-volume summary and assessment of women's move from the private domain to the public. Clearly and in detail, the authors describe women's increasing educational attainment and labor force participation, their lagging earning power, their continued commitment to marriage and family, and the "balancing act" necessitated by this overlap of roles. Supplementing 1980 Census data with even more recent surveys from the Census Bureau and other federal agencies, Bianchi and Spain are able to extend these trends into the 1980s and sketch the complex challenges posed by such lasting and historic changes.

This definitive and sensitive study is certain to become a standard reference work on American women today, and an essential foundation for future scholarship and policy concerning the status of women in our society.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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Approaches to Social Theory

Many social scientists lament the increasing fragmentation of their discipline, the trend toward specialization and away from engagement with overarching issues. Opportunities to transcend established subdisciplinary boundaries are rare, but the extraordinary conference that gave rise to this volume was one such occasion.

The W. I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki Memorial Conference on Social Theory, held at the University of Chicago, brought together an outstanding array of scholars representing a variety of contending approaches to social theory. In panels, presentations, and general discussions, these scholars confronted one another in the context of an entire range of approaches. But as readers of this deftly edited collection will discover, the conference was more than a forum for abstract theoretical debate. These papers and discussions represent original scholarly contributions that exemplify orientations to social theory by examining real problems in the functioning of society—from large-scale economic growth and decline to the dynamics of interpersonal interaction.

By exploring a few central issues in different ways, this unique conference worked through some lively theoretical incompatibilities and established genuine potential for communication, for complementary and collaborative effort at the core of sociology. The excitement of that dialogue, and the intellectual vitality it generated, are captured for the reader in Approaches to Social Theory.

"Meaty presentations and confrontations of ideas by people whose views we respect...Recommended to anyone interested in the current state of social theory." —Contemporary Sociology

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The Asian American Achievement Paradox

JENIFFER LEE is professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine. MIN ZHOU is professor of sociology at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Asian Americans are often stereotyped as the “model minority.” Their sizeable presence at elite universities and high household incomes have helped construct the narrative of Asian American “exceptionalism.” While many scholars and activists characterize this as a myth, pundits claim that Asian Americans’ educational attainment is the result of unique cultural values. In The Asian American Achievement Paradox, sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou offer a compelling account of the academic achievement of the children of Asian immigrants. Drawing on in-depth interviews with the adult children of Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees and survey data, Lee and Zhou bridge sociology and social psychology to explain how immigration laws, institutions, and culture interact to foster high achievement among certain Asian American groups.

For the Chinese and Vietnamese in Los Angeles, Lee and Zhou find that the educational attainment of the second generation is strikingly similar, despite the vastly different socioeconomic profiles of their immigrant parents. Because immigration policies after 1965 favor individuals with higher levels of education and professional skills, many Asian immigrants are highly educated when they arrive in the United States. They bring a specific “success frame,” which is strictly defined as earning a degree from an elite university and working in a high-status field. This success frame is reinforced in many local Asian communities, which make resources such as college preparation courses and tutoring available to group members, including their low-income members.

While the success frame accounts for part of Asian Americans’ high rates of achievement, Lee and Zhou also find that institutions, such as public schools, are crucial in supporting the cycle of Asian American achievement. Teachers and guidance counselors, for example, who presume that Asian American students are smart, disciplined, and studious, provide them with extra help and steer them toward competitive academic programs. These institutional advantages, in turn, lead to better academic performance and outcomes among Asian American students. Yet the expectations of high achievement come with a cost: the notion of Asian American success creates an “achievement paradox” in which Asian Americans who do not fit the success frame feel like failures or racial outliers. While pundits ascribe Asian American success to the assumed superior traits intrinsic to Asian culture, Lee and Zhou show how historical, cultural, and institutional elements work together to confer advantages to specific populations. An insightful counter to notions of culture based on stereotypes, The Asian American Achievement Paradox offers a deft and nuanced understanding how and why certain immigrant groups succeed.

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Asian American Political Participation

Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities

Asian Americans are a small percentage of the U.S. population, but their numbers are steadily rising—from less than a million in 1960 to more than 15 million today. They are also a remarkably diverse population—representing several ethnicities, religions, and languages—and they enjoy higher levels of education and income than any other U.S. racial group. Historically, socioeconomic status has been a reliable predictor of political behavior. So why has this fast-growing American population, which is doing so well economically, been so little engaged in the U.S. political system? Asian American Political Participation is the most comprehensive study to date of Asian American political behavior, including such key measures as voting, political donations, community organizing, and political protests. The book examines why some groups participate while others do not, why certain civic activities are deemed preferable to others, and why Asian socioeconomic advantage has so far not led to increased political clout. Asian American Political Participation is based on data from the authors’ groundbreaking 2008 National Asian American Survey of more than 5,000 Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, and Japanese Americans. The book shows that the motivations for and impediments to political participation are as diverse as the Asian American population. For example, native-born Asians have higher rates of political participation than their immigrant counterparts, particularly recent adult arrivals who were socialized outside of the United States. Protest activity is the exception, which tends to be higher among immigrants who maintain connections abroad and who engaged in such activity in their country of origin. Surprisingly, factors such as living in a new immigrant destination or in a city with an Asian American elected official do not seem to motivate political behavior—neither does ethnic group solidarity. Instead, hate crimes and racial victimization are the factors that most motivate Asian Americans to participate politically. Involvement in non-political activities such as civic and religious groups also bolsters political participation. Even among Asian groups, socioeconomic advantage does not necessarily translate into high levels of political participation. Chinese Americans, for example, have significantly higher levels of educational attainment than Japanese Americans, but Japanese Americans are far more likely to vote and make political contributions. And Vietnamese Americans, with the lowest levels of education and income, vote and engage in protest politics more than any other group. Lawmakers tend to favor the interests of groups who actively engage the political system, and groups who do not participate at high levels are likely to suffer political consequences in the future. Asian American Political Participation demonstrates that understanding Asian political behavior today can have significant repercussions for Asian American political influence tomorrow.

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