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The Sociohistorical Background and Development of America's Jews

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Publication Date: January 1999

Publisher(s): Transaction Publishers

Author(s): Chaim I. Waxman

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: American Jews; Academic research; Demography

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The article analyzes the issues in the current debate between "the new Jewish sociology" and those who still adhere to the more traditional perspective, and evaluates the merits of each based on the available empirical evidence. There are a number of inherent weaknesses in the context of our scientific knowledge of the national sociological patterns of American Jews, not the least being that we have very little national data. In addition to the possibility of local distinctiveness, some of the conflicting national projections nay derive from differences in the ways the variables were defined and the data collected in the local studies on which the national projections are based. It is shown that much of the debate hinges on the question of what standards of reference are used for comparison and evaluation.