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Southern, Central, and Eastern Europeans

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1 Southern, Central, and Eastern Europeans
Chapter 6 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: - any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; - preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; - any rental, lease, or lending of the program.

2 Questions We Will Explore
How had structural conditions changed in America for the southern, central, and eastern Europeans? How was the dominant group antagonistic towards the southern, central and eastern Europeans? In what ways was this hostility expressed? In what ways were the various southern, central, and eastern European ethnic groups’ adaptations to U.S. society similar? How do the three major sociological perspectives explain the experiences of southern, central, and eastern Europeans? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

3 Questions: Discuss the settlement of Europeans in your area that you have some knowledge. Discuss whether these European groups represent areas; Northern Southern Eastern Western Do current statistics of the local population reflect migration of European descendants or geographic longevity? What factors do students think contribute to this pattern?

4 Structural Conditions of the United States from 1880 to 1920
1880 to greatest immigration epoch in U.S. history. 1870s - dramatic increase in the number of Russians, Italians, and Austro-Hungarians arriving in the United States. By 1896, a turning point was reached, as immigrants from southern, central, and eastern Europe outnumbered those from northern and western Europe. The immigrants from southern, central, and eastern Europe came to a different U.S. than that found by the immigrants from northern and western Europe. The frontier was rapidly disappearing; industrialization and urbanization were changing the nation’s lifestyle Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

5 Structural Conditions (continued)
The southern, central, and eastern immigrants, mostly illiterate, unskilled, rural peasants, were plunged into a new cultural and social environment. Because they had virtually no resources, many of these immigrants settled in the cities that had been their ports of entry or in inland cities along railroad lines. At the turn of the 20th century, living conditions in the cities were far worse than they are today. Overcrowding, disease, high mortality rates, crime, filth, and congestion were endemic. Crowded into poorly ventilated tenements and cellars, the immigrants often lived in squalor Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

6 Structural Conditions (continued)
Most of the immigrants from southern, central and southern Europe worked low-status, manual labor jobs. The 84-hour work week for low wages was common. Jobs offered no paid vacations, sick pay, or pensions. Child labor was common and entire families often worked to provide a subsistence-level family income. Lighting, ventilation, and heating were poor in factories, moving parts of machinery were dangerously exposed, leading to many serious accidents. There was no workers’ compensation. Conditions, though bad, were better than what these immigrants had left behind. More important, the United States gave them hope and a promise of better things Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

7 Dominant Group Antagonism against Immigrants from Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe
Americans from English and other northern and western European backgrounds saw these southern, central, and eastern European immigrants as unacculturated strangers and tended to lump them all together. Italians and Jews stood out from the others because of their large numbers, residential clustering, religions, languages, appearance and cultural practices. Although many people viewed all new immigrants as undesirable and inassimilable, U.S. society directed the greatest antagonism against the more visible Italians and Jews Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

8 Dominant Group Antagonism (continued)
Antagonism to incoming minority groups had occurred many times before. From 1880 to 1920, it was also based on physical features. Without government assistance and with little or no knowledge of the land’s language or customs, immigrants from southern, central, and eastern Europe were expected to fit into U.S. society quickly. Native U.S. residents expected them to speak only English, strip away their old culture, and avoid any ethnic institutions or organizations. These demands often led to ethnic self-hatred or a negative self-image because of the newcomers’ ambivalence about assimilation or their inability or slowness to achieve it Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

9 Dominant Group Antagonism (continued)
By 1900, one third of the total population consisted of first or second generation Americans whose background was from southern, central, and eastern Europe, a fact that spurred demands to close the “floodgates” to stem the “immigrant tide.” In 1921, the first restrictive legislation against southern, central, and eastern Europeans was enacted. Not until the 1960s would the discriminatory quota system based on national origin be terminated Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

10 Dominant Group Antagonism (continued)
Cultural and structural conditions set the stage for stereotyping and for all three levels of prejudice and discrimination by the dominant group (Americans from English and other northern and western European backgrounds). Dominant patterns of nativism, antagonism, segregation, and legislative controls appeared frequently as did minority responses of avoidance, deviance, defiance, and acceptance. As a result, culture shock, community organization, development of subcultural areas, and marginality were common experiences of these European immigrants Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

11 Adaptations to U.S. Society by the Southern, Central, and Eastern Europeans
From 1880 to 1920, most immigrants and their children from southern, central, and eastern Europe experienced the social isolation and social distance that newcomers typically do, but also accentuated this time by racism. Whether in rural or urban locales, most remained socially segregated in flourishing ethnic communities with a strong social network where endogamy was the norm. For many of these immigrants, the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society was difficult Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

12 Adaptations to U.S. Society (continued)
Those who either had come from an urban background or had to adapt to being a subordinate minority group in Europe, such as the Greeks, Jews, and Armenians, adjusted to city life in the U.S. more easily. They took advantage of educational opportunities, climbed the socioeconomic ladder when possible and adapted to U.S. society. Others (e.g., Poles and Italians), consisting mostly of illiterate peasants, took longer to get established. Not all the immigrants became citizens, and not all were successful; some did not learn English Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

13 Adaptations to U.S. Society (continued)
Urban backgrounds and found opportunities aided the assimilation of Armenians, Greeks, and Jews. Other groups from southern, central, and eastern Europe took one or two generations longer to enter the mainstream. The labor movement, after much sacrifice and turmoil, was a significant factor in the latter achieving economic security, which in turn led to better education for the children, and eventual entry into the mainstream. Still, by 1971 their assimilation was far from complete, leading social critic Michael Novak to call this group of Europeans the “unmeltable ethnics.” Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

14 3 Major Perspectives of the Southern, Central, and Eastern European Immigrant Experience
Functionalist - The arrival of large numbers of immigrants served the rapidly industrializing nation well. Immigrants provided a valuable labor pool to meet the needs of an expanding economy, enabling the U.S. to emerge as an industrial giant. Unemployment during this era (1880 to 1920) was not a problem, and the poor of Europe were able to build a better life for themselves in the U.S. Conflict approach - Examines U.S. industrialists’ exploitation of immigrants from southern, central, and eastern Europe, maximizing profits by minimizing wages and maintaining poor working conditions Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

15 3 Major Perspectives (cont’d)
Employers blacklisted, hired other ethnics as strikebreakers, secured court injunctions, or used vigilantes, police, or state militia to break up strikes and protests. Upward mobility for these European Americans occurred from an organized worker movement. Interactionist - Differing social interpretations, among groups unfamiliar to each other, set the stage for ethnic conflict. Industrialization, urbanization, economic exploitation, and a host of other factors may have created the social problems regarding the southern, central, and eastern European immigrants, but the native born tended to see only the symptoms manifested in the immigrant communities. Believing such conditions had not existed until these immigrants came Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

16 Summary Nativists viewed immigrants from southern, central, and eastern Europe as undesirable and inassimilable. Although, because of rapid industrialization in the U.S. from 1880 to 1920 these immigrants fulfilled an important need in the growth and development of the nation. These immigrants’ physical and cultural differences heightened nativists fears about an undesirable element populating the U.S. The functionalist, conflict, and interactionist theories provide explanations for the southern, central, and eastern European immigrants’ experience Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2003

17 KEY TERMs Annihilation Assimilation Avoidance Cultural differentiation
Culture shock Deviance Endogamy Ethnocentrism Ethnophaslism Marginality Pluralism Prejudice Push-pull factors Racism Social segregation Social structure Stereotyping Upward mobility Values

18 Immigration Reform and the Resurgence of Nativism
How have changes in U.S. Immigration Laws affected nativist attitudes and actions? How is the English Only movement an example of xenophobic behavior? What appropriate actions can the United States take to encourage immigrants to learn English? Why do xenophobic attitudes promote violent behavior? What American nativist attitudes exist today?

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