Toward a theoretical reformulation of the relationship between political ideology, social class, and ethnicity : a case study of the Winnipeg Jewish radical community, 1905-1920

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Usiskin, Roseline
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Renewed ethnic conflict and national ideological orientations have been in the forefront of public attention since World War II. As a result, minority ethnic groups have raised the assimilation/survival debates to the level of social consciousness. The ideology of assimilation has been a product of Western civilization since the French Revolution. Over time, it has become an integral theoretical assumption of both the liberal and Marxist ideologies. However, after two hundred years the policy of assimilation, whether advocated by liberal or Marxists, has failed to alter the reality of ethnic survival. Today, while some liberal social scientists have incorporated ethnicity into their theoretical framework, frequently, the ethnic factor has been used to the exclusion of a class analysis. On the other hand, while Marx' model of class remains an invaluable and fundamental insight into the nature of capitalist social relationships, it has been found insufficient in explaining the vigor of contemporary ethnic consciousness. Hence, the theoretical reformulation undertaken in this thesis has been an attempt to expand Marx' model of class, so that it can reflect more clearly ethnicity as another aspect of social reality. Our theoretical reformulation has been guided by examining the historical case study of the Jewish radical comnunity of Winnipeg's North End during its formative period, 1905 - 1920. By exploring the parallel structures that these radicals developed in response to their political ideologies during this period, this thesis demonstrated that Jewish radicals expanded their ideological framework. This framework exhibited not only their heightened class consciousness which was related directly to their class position, but it also exhibited their heightened ethnic awareness of a "kinship arising out of a common past". By their very existence, Jewish radicals provided a clear and determined opposition to both the liberal and Marxist assimilationist orientations.