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THE EFFECTS OF U.S. GENERATION ON RELIGIO-ETHNIC IDENTITY: EVIDENCE FROM THE NATIONAL JEWISH POPULATION SURVEY

Leonard Gordon and Albert J. Mayer
Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
Vol. 10, No. 1, Race & Ethnic Relations: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (FALL/WINTER 1982/83), pp. 143-162
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23261861
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE EFFECTS OF U.S. GENERATION ON RELIGIO-ETHNIC IDENTITY: EVIDENCE FROM THE NATIONAL JEWISH POPULATION SURVEY
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Abstract

This paper evaluates the independent effects of generation of settlement in the U.S. and levels of pietistic and communal religio-ethnic identity. The source of data analyzed is the National Jewish Population Survey conducted in 1970-71. By using a large national sample it was possible to control for the confounding effects of such commonly analyzed factors as life cycle stage or demographic and SES factor effects. The data strongly suggest that it is important to distinguish between the affective ties reflected and generated by traditional cultural practices and associations in contrast to the vested interest ties that advance practical interests disassociated from traditional pietism. It is only among the first U.S. generation, reflected among all age cohorts, that there is found a substantial majority who are pietistic in practice and tightly knit in intragroup associations. A salient issue raised by the findings is to what extent Jewish, and other religio-ethnic group, identity can maintain its vitality devoid of sustaining traditional cultural values and practices which maintain both a sense and a reality of group cohesiveness. There is a continuing annual immigration into the U.S. of several hundred thousands from differing religio-ethnic backgrounds, including Jews. The first U.S. generation for Jews, and perhaps for other religio-ethnic groups, may be influential in the immediate generational future. There is evident renewed American Jewish religio-ethnic identity. The new immigrant first U.S. generation may help determine whether American society is evolving predominantly toward Park's postulated assimilationism, Glazer and Moynihan's postulated vested interest ethnic pluralism, or maintenance of some viable continuing forms of traditional cultural identity.

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