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Ethnic Groups in Flux: The Changing Ethnic Responses of American Whites

Stanley Lieberson and Mary C. Waters
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 487, Immigration and American Public Policy (Sep., 1986), pp. 79-91
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1046054
Page Count: 13
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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.
Ethnic Groups in Flux: The Changing Ethnic Responses of American Whites
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Abstract

As whites become increasingly distant in generations and time from their immigrant ancestors, the tendency to distort, or remember selectively, one's ethnic origins increases. Distortions and inconsistencies in ethnic reporting are shown to vary with age, educational attainment, and marital status and even to exist within families when parents report the ethnic ancestry of their children. These examples of inconsistency, simplification, and systematic distortion all demonstrate the flux of the ethnic categories among white Americans. It is concluded that ethnic categories are social phenomena that over the long run are constantly being redefined and reformulated.

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