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1965Nonfiction

Assimilation in American Life

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Milton M. Gordon

  • Born: 1918

The first full-scale sociological survey of the assimilation of minorities in America, this classic work presents significant conclusions about the problems of prejudice and discrimination in America and offers positive suggestions for the achievement of a healthy balance among societal, subgroup, and individual needs. Assimilation in American Life was awarded the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. It has sold well over 100,000 copies and is still in print. It is one of the most widely cited books in the field of racial and ethnic group relations and is considered the standard work on the assimilation process. It has been frequently referred to in recent years as a “classic.”

Milton Gordon is an American sociologist. He is most noted for having devised a theory on the Seven Stages of Assimilation. Gordon is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He came to UMass in 1961 as Professor of Sociology and taught there for twenty-five years, retiring in 1986. Previously he had been on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, and Wellesley College. He was educated at Bowdoin College (AB, 1939) and Columbia University (MA, 1940; PhD, 1950). At Bowdoin, he graduated magna cum laude with Highest Honors in Economics and Sociology and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. At Columbia, he won a University Fellowship.

Dr. Gordon has been a consultant on race relations and ethnicity to the city of Philadelphia and Brandeis University, and received research aid from the Russell Sage Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. He was elected President of the Eastern Sociological Society for 1978-79. Gordon was given the Distinguished Bowdoin Educator Award by his alma mater in 1992. In 2002, he received the Distinguished Career Award from the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, one of the profession’s highest honors, at the annual meeting of the Association in Chicago.

Professor Gordon lives with companion Erika Owsley in rural Tonasket, Washington, where he still engages with academic life. His “Assimilation in American Life” remains in print as a bedrock text in sociology, and was translated by Yilin Press into a simplified Chinese edition in 2014.