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Ethnic Stratification and Social Unrest in Contemporary Eastern Europe and America1

  • Robert F. Hill (a1) and Howard F. Stein (a2)


The crucial question in the analysis of social unrest is why it occurs at a particular moment in history. Whether one refers to the new militant movements in the United States (“Black Power,” “Red Power,” “Ethnic Power”), Ukrainian nationalism in the Soviet Ukraine, Great Russian revitalization, or the recent World Slovak Congress held in New York; it is clear that traditional systems of social stratification in the United States and Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe are now being severely strained. As Shibutani and Kwan have emphasized, in stable stratified societies the inequality of prerogatives goes unquestioned, even by the subjugated who willingly support it. Only in periods of instability is the differential access to opportunity questioned. And dissatisfaction arises only when alternatives to the status quo are perceived. This insight is the core of the “theory of relative deprivation.”



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1. This paper was stimulated and supported by the Maurice Falk Medical Fund under which we have conducted research as Maurice Falk Fellows in Racism, Ethnicity, and Mental Health. We wish specifically to acknowledge the invitation of James F. Clarke to participate in the Annual Meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies at which this paper was originally presented, and those many Slavic-Americans who gave countless hours of their time to explain to us what was already obvious to them.

3. Geyer, Georgie A., “A New Quest for the Old Russia,” Saturday Review, (December 25, 1971): 1417.

4. Shibutani, Tamotsu and Kwan, Kian M., Ethnic Stratification: A Comparative Approach (New York, 1965).

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6. Isaacs, Harold, American Jews in Israel (New York: 1967); India's Ex-untouchables (New York, 1965); New World of Negro-Americans (New York, 1963); Two-thirds of the World: Problems of A New Approach to the Peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Washington, D. C., 1950); Emergent Americans: A Report on Crossroads Africa (New York, 1961).

7. Isaacs, , op. cit., p. 44.

8. Ibid.

9. Wallerstein, Cf. I., “Ethnicity and National Integration in West Africa,” in Africa: Social Problems of Change and Conflict, P. von den Breghe, ed. (San Francisco, 1965); Kelman, Herbert C., “Patterns of Personal Involvement in the National System: A Social Psychological Analysis of Political Legitimacy,” in International Politics and Foreign Policy: A Reader in Research and Theory, Revised Edition, James N. Rosenau, ed. (Illinois, 1969); Otto Klineberg and Marisa Zavalloni, Nationalism and Tribalism Among Af rican Students: A Study of Social Identity (The Hague, 1969).

10. Gordon's impact on the field of ethnic studies is highlighted by his editorship of a DAEDALUS issue, entitled “Ethnic Groups in American Life,” and by his general editorship of the recent “Ethnic Groups in American Life Series” being published by Prentice-Hall. Gordon, Milton, Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins (New York, 1964) and “Ethnic Groups in American Life,” DAEDALUS (Spring: 1961); Goldstein, Sidney and Goldscheider, Calvin, Jewish Americans: Three Generations in a Jewish Community (New Jersey, 1968); Kitano, Harry H. L., Japanese Americans: The Emergence of a Subculture (New Jersey, 1969); Pinkney, Alphonso, Black Americans (New Jersey, 1969); Moore, Joan W., Mexican Americans (New Jersey, 1970); Fitzpatrick, Joseph P., Puerto-Rican Americans: The Meaning of Migration to the Mainland (New Jersey, 1971); Wax, Marray, Indian Americans: Unity and Diversity (New Jersey, 1971).

11. Handlin, Oscar in New York Times (June 1: 1969).

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14. Rose, Peter I, They and We: Racial and Ethnic Relations in the U. S. (New York, 1964).

15. Rose, Peter I., Nation of Nations: The Ethnic Experience and the Racial Crisis (New York, 1972).

16. Campbell, Cf. Donald T., “Stereotypes and the Perception of Group Differences,” The American Psychologist, No. 221 (1967): 817829; and LeVine, Robert A., “Socialization, Social Structure and Intersocietal Images,” in International Behavior and Social-Psychological Analysis, Herbert C. Kelman, ed., (New York, 1965): 4569.

17. Barth, Fredrik, ed., Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (Boston, 1969).

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19. Hannerz, Ulf, Soulside: Inquiries into Ghetto Culture and Community (New York, 1969).

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25. Thomas, W. I. and Znaniecki, Florian, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (New York, 1927) and Thomas, John L., “Marriage Prediction in the Polish Peasant,” American Journal of Sociology, 55 (1950): 572578. Thomas and Znaniecki had talked only to those families who had come to the attention of welfare agencies. Moreover, the picture of the idyllic peasant village described by these researchers is also subject to question since most later peasant studies stressed the opposite: conflict, factionalism, amoral familism, and a general absence of organization beyond the small family unit. (Banfield, E. C., The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (Illinois, 1958); Foster, George M., “Interpersonal Relations in Peasant Society,” Human Organization, No. 19 (1960): 174184; Goldschmidt, Walter, “The Structure of the Peasant Family,” American Anthropologist, No. 73(1971): 10581076; Lewis, Oscar, Life in a Mexican Village (Illinois, 1951).) For at least a generation preceding the Polish migration to America, Eastern Europe was in a state of constant turmoil and socio-economic change. (Greene, Victor R., “Pre-World War I Polish Emigration to the United States: Motives and Statistics,” The Polish Review, 6, No. 3(1961): 4568.

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30. Fishman, Joshua, “Childhood Indoctrination for Minority Group Membership,” Daedalus, No. 90 (1961): 329349.

31. Leach, Edmund, Political Systems of Highland Burma (Boston, 1964).

32. Anderson, Robert T., Traditional Europe: A Study in Anthropology and History (California, 1971).

33. As noted by Martindale, “Cooley's famous ‘looking-glass self’ was his particular form of what James had described as the social self … The general argument, of course, is that the social self arises reflectively in terms of the reaction to the opinions of others on the self.” Cooley, Charles H., Human Nature and the Social Order, (New York, 1902); Martindale, Don, The Nature and Types of Sociological Theory (Boston, 1960).

34. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds., From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York, 1958).

35. Honigmann, John J., Personality in Culture (New York, 1967).

36. Erikson, Erik, Identity, Youth and Crisis (New York, 1968).

37. Spiro, Melford E., “The Acculturation of American Ethnic Groups,” American Anthropologist, No. 57 (1955):12401252.

38. See Fishman, , Daedalus.

39. Burridge, K.O.L., Mammu: A Melanesian Millennium (London, 1960).

40. See Isaacs, , “The House of Mumbi.”

41. Erikson, Erik, Insight and Responsibility (New York, 1964).

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43. Gordon, See, Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins (New York, 1964).

44. Greeley, Andrew M., “Intellectuals as an ‘Ethnic Group’,” New York Times Magazine (July 12: 1970).

45. See Erikson, , Identity, Youth and Crisis, pp. 2223.

46. Ibid., p. 299.

47. Ibid., p. 303.

48. Ibid.

49. Ibid.

50. Ibid., p. 300.

51. Spicer, Edward, ed., Perspectives in American Indian Culture Change (Chicago, 1961).

52. Spicer, Edward, “Persistent Cultural Systems,” Science, No. 174 (1971): 795800.

53. Ibid.

54. See Leach, , Political Systems of Highland Burma, p. 17.

55. See Shibutani, and Kwan, , Ethnic Stratification: A Comparative Approach, p. 208.

56. Ibid., p. 223. It may be further noted that Theodor Herzl, one of the leaders of modern Zionism once referred to the Jewish situation in the language of the oppositional process, “We are one people–our enemies have made us one without our consent, as repeatedly happens in history. Distress binds us together, and thus united, we suddenly discover our strength.” Theodor Herzl, “The Jewish State,” American Zionist Emergency Council (New York, 1946). (Original: 1896, Der Judenstaat. Vienna).

57. Czigany, Lorant G., “The Concept of Hungarianness and Its Implications in the Intellectual Life of 19th Century Hungary,” Annual Meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Dallas (March 15-18, 1972).

58. Fishman, Joshua A. and Nahirny, Vladimir C., “Ukrainian Language Maintenance Efforts in the U. S.,” Language: Loyalty in the United States (The Hague, 1966): 343352.

59. Apter, David, “Political Religion in the New Nations,” in Old Societies and New States, Clifford Geertz, ed., (New York, 1963).

60. Longworth, Philip, The Cossacks (New York, 1969).

61. Erikson, Erik, Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (New York, 1958).

62. Novak, Michael, “White Ethnic: The Anger of a Man Disinherited by the Authorized American Fantasy,” Harpers (September: 1971):4451.


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