An unusual community in southern Minnesota, New Ulm, a town of about 12,000 inhabitants, is the subject of this sociological study. New Ulm was founded in 1856 by a group of German immigrants who came to the United States as refugees from the revolution of 1848 in Germany. They were members of the Turnverein, a society of liberal thinkers who were a political minority in Germany. In founding New Ulm they established a “utopian” ethnic community, became the town’s status elite, and for a long time monopolized its economic, political, and cultural life. Professor Iverson analyzes four aspects of sociological change in the community -- class, status, power, and assimilation. Each aspect is viewed according to the differences found between two generations of the upper status group, the Turners, and two corresponding generations of non-Turners. In addition to its substantive contribution to our knowledge of ethnic settlements, the study demonstrates a gain in methodological precision over many earlier studies of ethnic communities. Its chief methodological innovation is in the use of scales to verify and measure the changing structure of class, status, and power, and to gauge the extent of assimilation. The book is of interest not only to sociologists, especially those concerned with the study of community change, but also to political scientists interested in the study of community power structures. Also, the methodology will be instructive to those interested in the design of community studies.
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