Mainstream and Margins
10 Corporate Place South
Piscataway, New Jersey 08854
London WC2E 8LU
Pub date: January 1, 1983
244 pp, HC, $45.95, 6.2 x 9.2
Excerpts from reviews of Mainstream and Margins
From ERIC, 1984
This collection of 11 essays on race and ethnicity written over 25 years reflects the thoughts and expressions of the author as they developed. They all focus on some aspects of racial and ethnic relations and the problems faced by individuals in three overlapping social categories: (1) European immigrants, especially Jews; (2) non-White minorities, mainly Blacks; and (3) the sociologists who write about both. Essays are not presented in the order in which they were written, but are grouped by subject. Part I, “The Marginality of a Model Minority,” focuses on European immigrants, especially Jews, and contains four essays: (1) “The Ghetto and Beyond: Reflections on Jewish Life in America”; (2) “Tensions and Trends: American Jews in the 1980s”; (3) “Country Cousins: Small-Town Jews and Their Neighbors”; and (4) “City Lights: The Children of Small-Town Jews.” Part II, “Red, White, Blue- and Black,” addresses Black/White relations, and contains four essays: (5) “The Black Experience: Issues and Images”; (6) “Race and Education in New York: The Challenge Moves North”; (7) “Social Physics: The Resurgence of Ethnicity”; and (8) “Blacks and Jews: The Strained Alliance.” Part III, “On Ethnic Studies and Other Matters,” discusses the sociology of racial and ethnic relations, and contains the final three essays: (9) “On the Subject of Race: Thinking, Writing, and Teaching about Racial and Ethnic Relations”; (10) “Problems in Conveying the Meaning of Ethnicity: The Insider/Outsider Debate”; and (11) “It’s Almost 1984: Sociological Perspectives on American Society.” Taken together, the essays demonstrate that sociology can be a lively mode of humanistic inquiry.
From the journal of American Jewish History, June, 1984
[These are] essays on the structure and shifting interests of American Jewry, the rise of new black militancy, strained relations between blacks and Jews, and intellectual dilemmas in studying diverse ethnic groups. Probably his most original pieces are empirical investigations of Jews in small towns in upstate New York and a follow-up study of their children, most of whom have settled in metropolitan areas. In his more general essays he ably uses historical data to summarize the social, political, and cultural ascent of Jews in the 1950s, and the sources of black discontentment with white liberals in the 1960s. He wisely emphasizes the need to study race relations within the broad context of social change…. His lengthy essay on race relations theorizing, while directed primarily to specialists, is probably his most broadly informative….
William Toll, University of Oregon