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Patterns within prejudice: antisemitism in the United States in the 1940s

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Abstract:

Ziege compares two field studies on ethnocentrism, racism and antisemitism among American workers during the Second World War: ‘Antisemitism among American Labor’ (1945) by the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research (ISR) in exile and Wartime Shipyard (1947) by Katherine Archibald at the University of California at Berkeley. The former was a large-scale team project headed by Friedrich Pollock, Theodor W. Adorno and Paul Massing, who had at their disposal a large number of fieldworkers as well as the support of the trade unions. Archibald worked in complete isolation. Yet, in spite of this and major differences in design and theory, the European Marxists and the American liberal came to similar conclusions: hostility towards Jews at that time had to be analysed in connection with hostility towards other groups (including women, Blacks, labourers from the American South and other ethnic and social minorities) and within the context of the war and the Holocaust. While aware of the innovations achieved in research by means of public opinion polls, both studies were pioneering in their ambition to improve on quantitative research by means of non-quantitative procedures and qualitative-participatory observation. Ziege links these studies to a third study, The Authoritarian Personality (1950), conducted by the ISR, particularly Adorno, which poses the question of how relevant the ISR's critical theory was for the innovations achieved in studies of prejudice, when Archibald's study, which eschewed social theory, arrived at similar conclusions regarding antisemitism.

Keywords: American labour; Frankfurt School; Institute of Social Research; Katherine Archibald; Max Horkheimer; Theodor Adorno; antisemitism; empirical research; prejudice; racism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0031322X.2012.672206

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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