A comparative analysis of ethclass indices among three ethnoreligious groups in a midwestern community
Dobratz, Betty A.
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A survey of the sociological literature pertinent to intergroup relations revealed that a basic theoretical framework which considers the concepts of ethnicity and class is needed. Gordon has suggested the concept of ethclass, the subsociety created by the intersection of the ethnic group and class, as a linkage between ethnic and social stratification. Since there have been no empirical tests of the relevance' of the ethclass concept for selected ethnic groups, this thesis attempted to ascertain the applicability of ethclass for the understanding of primary group relationships. A questionnaire concerning the major variables of nationality, religion, class, friendship and marriage patterns was designed and distributed to couples who belonged to the Greek Orthodox, Italian Catholic, and Swedish Lutheran ethnic groups of "Forest City." Altogether 264 questionnaires were utilized in the analysis of data. Two general hypotheses provided the focus for the study. According to the first one, social participation in primary group relationships tends to be confined to members of one’s social class segment within one's own ethnic group, that is to the ethclass. From the testing of the four specific hypotheses under the broader framework, it was concluded that people do confine their primary group relations to persons of their own ethclass much more often than one would expect by random selection. The couples were more likely to establish friendships with persons of their own class than ethnicity but this was not the case regarding their marriage patterns or preferences for their children’s marital partners. Both friendship and marriage patterns occurred more often within the same religion than nationality. As one moved from the second to the third generation, some attenuation of nationality identification and primary group relations within one's own nationality was noted. The second general hypothesis attempted to relate the process of mobility, the dynamic element of the class system, to the ethclass tendency.' Contrary to the original hypothesis which suggested that mobile persons would associate less within their own ethclass, it was found that they had similar patterns of primary group relations and similar nationality and religious identification. Thus the ethclass tendency was found relevant for upward mobiles as well as middle class and working class stables. Finally, the need for more studies dealing with the ethclass hypothesis was discussed.