Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America

Overview

Richard Alba argues that the social cleavages that separate Americans into distinct, unequal ethno-racial groups could narrow dramatically in the coming decades. During the mid-twentieth century, the dominant position of the United States in the postwar world economy led to a rapid expansion of education and labor opportunities. As a result of their newfound access to training and jobs, many ethnic and religious outsiders, among them Jews and Italians, finally gained full acceptance as members of the mainstream. ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $4.99   
  • New (5) from $17.62   
  • Used (4) from $4.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Richard Alba argues that the social cleavages that separate Americans into distinct, unequal ethno-racial groups could narrow dramatically in the coming decades. During the mid-twentieth century, the dominant position of the United States in the postwar world economy led to a rapid expansion of education and labor opportunities. As a result of their newfound access to training and jobs, many ethnic and religious outsiders, among them Jews and Italians, finally gained full acceptance as members of the mainstream. Alba proposes that this large-scale assimilation of white ethnics was a result of “non-zero-sum mobility,” which he defines as the social ascent of members of disadvantaged groups that can take place without affecting the life chances of those who are already members of the established majority.

Alba shows that non-zero-sum mobility could play out positively in the future as the baby-boom generation retires, opening up the higher rungs of the labor market. Because of the changing demography of the country, many fewer whites will be coming of age than will be retiring. Hence, the opportunity exists for members of other groups to move up. However, Alba cautions, this demographic shift will only benefit disadvantaged American minorities if they are provided with access to education and training. In Blurring the Color Line, Alba explores a future in which socially mobile minorities could blur stark boundaries and gain much more control over the social expression of racial differences.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Douglas S. Massey
Blurring the Color Line offers a primer on how to make assimilation happen in the 21st century.
Mary C. Waters
Blurring the Color Line has the potential to be an instant classic. It demonstrates through a rigorous analysis of demographic, economic, and social data that the successful integration of American minority groups is very possible in the coming decades.
Teachers College Record - Natasha Kumar Warikoo
When it comes to understanding racial change and integration in the United States, Richard Alba is a groundbreaker...Alba's detailed narrative shows how public education can make the difference between significant, rapid social change with respect to race, and slow, more piecemeal blurring. One might read this book as another argument for why public education needs to be ramped up, especially in urban areas, but the implications, I believe, go further...Blurring the Color Line presents an impressive amount of evidence to support Alba's sophisticated arguments, and he presents all sides of the complex arguments of the book. Impressive in its lucidity, in addition to quantitative analysis the book is rich with details about complex sociological research related to the topics of the book...A theory as overarching as Alba's is impressive in its detail, its reach, and its ability to explain the past and hypothesize about the future.
Society - William Helmreich
Blurring the Color Line is a groundbreaking, original, and important work which greatly advances and broadens the debate on the future makeup of American society. In doing so, it also marshals a great deal of demographic and statistical evidence to back up the incisive arguments made by the author...Blurring the Color Line is a brilliant and lucid analysis with very important implications that need to be carefully thought through. As such, it is mandatory reading for all those interested in policy analysis, and especially for leaders responsible for shaping and implementing it.
Population and Development Review - Charles Hirschman
This is a gutsy book, one that few scholars would have dared to write and one that even fewer are sufficiently knowledgeable to undertake. Although critics can nitpick, Blurring the Color Line is essential reading for scholars, students, activists, and pundits in the field of race and ethnicity, and anyone interested in the promise of social science to inform the policy agenda.
Publishers Weekly
According to Alba (coauthor of Remaking the American Mainstream), present-day America has arrived at a rare moment in its history, when disadvantaged minorities could “alter the ethnoracial boundaries of American society through increasing diversity at its middle and upper levels.” He argues that the U.S. reached similar moments as southern and eastern European, Irish and Jewish immigrants were gradually amalgamated into the mainstream and considered white. His arguments on why conditions could be ripe for a similar shift in the early 21st century are logical and well-supported. One unfortunate blind spot, however, is Alba's insistence on lumping together disadvantaged Hispanic and black minorities and failing to acknowledge that the African-American presence in the U.S. is wholly unique—for all the labor statistics he presents, he neglects to weigh the consequences of a 400-year legacy of slavery and segregation. Alba's conclusion is strongly stated and well reasoned, and but he hides in an ivory tower, neglecting to satisfyingly examine the hurdles to the education and affirmative-action reforms he so vigorously recommends. (Sept.)
Teachers College Record
When it comes to understanding racial change and integration in the United States, Richard Alba is a groundbreaker...Alba's detailed narrative shows how public education can make the difference between significant, rapid social change with respect to race, and slow, more piecemeal blurring. One might read this book as another argument for why public education needs to be ramped up, especially in urban areas, but the implications, I believe, go further...Blurring the Color Line presents an impressive amount of evidence to support Alba's sophisticated arguments, and he presents all sides of the complex arguments of the book. Impressive in its lucidity, in addition to quantitative analysis the book is rich with details about complex sociological research related to the topics of the book...A theory as overarching as Alba's is impressive in its detail, its reach, and its ability to explain the past and hypothesize about the future.
— Natasha Kumar Warikoo
Society
Blurring the Color Line is a groundbreaking, original, and important work which greatly advances and broadens the debate on the future makeup of American society. In doing so, it also marshals a great deal of demographic and statistical evidence to back up the incisive arguments made by the author...Blurring the Color Line is a brilliant and lucid analysis with very important implications that need to be carefully thought through. As such, it is mandatory reading for all those interested in policy analysis, and especially for leaders responsible for shaping and implementing it.
— William Helmreich
Population and Development Review
This is a gutsy book, one that few scholars would have dared to write and one that even fewer are sufficiently knowledgeable to undertake. Although critics can nitpick, Blurring the Color Line is essential reading for scholars, students, activists, and pundits in the field of race and ethnicity, and anyone interested in the promise of social science to inform the policy agenda.
— Charles Hirschman
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674064706
  • Publisher: Harvard
  • Publication date: 3/5/2012
  • Series: The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures , #3
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 951,302
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Alba is Distinguished Professor of Sociology, the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Paradoxes of race and ethnicity in America today 1

2 The puzzle of ethno-racial change 21

3 Solving the puzzle : a new theory of boundary change 52

4 Contemporary dynamics of minority mobility 90

5 An extraordinary opportunity : the exit of the Baby Boomers 136

6 The contingencies of change 166

7 Imagining a more integrated future 212

Notes 243

Index 293

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)