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ANTI-SEMITISM AND PROGRESSIVE ERA SOCIAL SCIENCE: THE CASE OF JOHN R. COMMONS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 February 2016

Luca Fiorito*
Affiliation:
University of Palermo.
Cosma Orsi
Affiliation:
Catholic University of Milan.
*
1Correspondence may be addressed to Luca Fiorito at luca.fiorito@unipa.it.

Abstract

This paper explores John Commons’s views toward Jews in order to assess whether his published writings contain assertions that today would be stigmatized as anti-Semitic. The evidence we provide shows that Commons’s racial characterization of Jews was framed within a broad and indiscriminate xenophobic framework. With other leading Progressive Era social scientists, in fact, Commons shared the idea that the new immigration from eastern and southern Europe would increase competition in the labor market, drive down wages, and lead Anglo-Saxon men and women to have fewer children, since they would not want them to compete with those who survive on less. Within this general xenophobic context, Commons developed assertions regarding immigrant Jews that show traces of explicit anti-Semitic accusations.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The History of Economics Society 2016 

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