THE BLENDING AMERICAN: Patterns of Intermarriage by Milton L. Barron

THE BLENDING AMERICAN: Patterns of Intermarriage

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Judging from this anthology of articles and book excerpts on ethnic, racial, and religious intermarriage in recent American times, the gardeners of this sub-field should receive a prize for sociological malnutrition, pedestrian empiricism, and sheer incuriosity about human beings. A few of the contributors (Merton, Clark Vincen) try to make the point that marriage patterns must be viewed in the light of broader social relationships, and that to simply pose intermarriage as ""a problem"" is to beg the question of problematic institutions and attitudes -- for example, the sectarian reflexes of organized religion. Some articles simply record statistical distributions of sex, race, income, etc. among intermarried couples; some deal with the ""three melting pots hypothesis,"" i.e., intermarriage tends to occur across ethnic lines within each major religious category while racial lines are still rarely crossed. Some authors, like Anselm Strauss, view intermarriage as a wholesome thing; others, like Barron, have doubts; but their shared hypothesis is that of a ""trade-off"" between a higher-status minority group member and a lower-status majority group member. Merton thinks only sex can explain an upper-class white's marriage to a lower-class black; since he finds no ""culturally acceptable"" motivation, there must be no ""cultural"" motivation at all! None of the contributors succeeds in seriously placing these topics in the context of American history, which would give them socioeconomic concreteness and psychological truth. The subject of intermarriage is posited as important because it indicates how the American assimilation process is coming along, but changing American attitudes toward non-WASP ethnicity are insufficiently examined. Altogether this represents a clinical exhibit rather than a collective intellectual accomplishment.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1972
Publisher: Quadrangle