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Americanization and the Education of Immigrants, 1900-1925: An Analysis of Symbolic Action

Michael R. Olneck
American Journal of Education
Vol. 97, No. 4 (Aug., 1989), pp. 398-423
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1084868
Page Count: 26
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Americanization and the Education of Immigrants, 1900-1925: An Analysis of Symbolic Action
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Abstract

This article interprets Americanization and civics education as symbolic action sanctioning a status order and authoritatively defining and interpreting social phenomena. It argues that symbolic reconfiguration of American civic culture, not transformation of immigrants, is the important historical consequence of the Americanization movement. Despite the emphasis that some scholars have placed on the imperatives for conformity characteristic of the Americanization movement, this article contends that the lasting import of the movement lies less in its bias toward cultural homogeneity and more in its symbolic delegitimation of collective ethnic identity and in its affirmation of the autonomous individual.

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