Jews in the United States, 1957-2008: Milton Gordon's Assimilation Theory Revisited

Uzi Rebhun, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

I analyze data from different complementary sources, accompanied by secondary resources, to assess Milton Gordon's theory of interrelated stages of assimilation. I focus on one small but salient minority - American Jews – and trace changes in major socio-demographic patterns over the last 50 years (1957-2008) in comparison with those of the core (WASP) society; and examine the effect of structural assimilation on marital assimilation, identificational assimilation, and conciseness assimilation. My findings attest to the successful achievements of American Jews that coincide with the definition of structural assimilation. Structural assimilation does not enhance marital assimilation, nor does it evolve into identificational assimilation. It does, however, enhance conciseness assimilation. In the discussion, I argue that Gordon’s approach should be assessed within the changing social context of America of the last fifty years from the dominance of the melting pot ethos to cultural pluralism.

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Presented in Poster Session 4