Assimilation in American Life: An empirical assessment of milton gordons multi-dimensional theory

Uzi Rebhun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study empirically assesses Milton Gordon's theory of interrelated stages of assimilation. I focus on one small but salient religious minority - American Jews - to show how structural assimilation is associated with other dimensions of assimilation: marital, identification, and behavior reception. Findings from multivariate analyses suggest that structural assimilation encourages Jews to marry non-Jews. Such a marriage composition has become a major determinant of identificational assimilation, with non-Jewish social relationships having important if somewhat weaker association with group identification. Social and economic attainments are moderate factors of identificational behavior that may sometimes strengthen, rather than weaken, religio-ethnic identification. The various components of structural assimilation are not significant for reception assimilation. The findings are discussed in relation to the functionalism concept, in connection with the more recent literature on immigration and assimilation and in view of the changing social context of America in the second half of the twentieth century from the dominance of the melting pot ethos to cultural pluralism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)473-496
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Washington DC, 30 March–2 April 2011 (poster session) and at the Second International Krakow Study of Religious Symposium, “Religions: Fields of Research, Methods, and Perspectives”, Krakow, Jagiellonian University, 25–27 November 2013. I acknowledge support from the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant, funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2013S1A5B8A01055017). The comments received from the two anonymous referees of the Journal of Contemporary Religion were especially helpful. Responsibility for the contents of this article rests solely with the author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 © 2015 Taylor & Francis.


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