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Article Dans Une Revue Jewish Social Studies Année : 2022

Statistics, Race, and Essentialism in the Debate over Jewish Employment Structure (1905-39)

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Résumé

The second half of the nineteenth century saw the development of statistical studies about Jewish populations written by Jewish authors. Jewish enthusiasm for statistics gave rise to what historians have called Jewish social science or Jewish statistics. This article contributes to scholarship on Jewish social science by challenging the assumption in the literature that statistics was inherently essentialist and drew on race science. This case study is based on an analysis of early twentieth-century socioeconomic studies in Jewish statistical periodicals and, in particular, discussions of Jewish employment structure, or how the Jewish workforce was divided between the main economic sectors. Although this body of statistical research does not necessarily represent Jewish social science as a whole, it offers an opportunity to analyze the relationship between essentialism and statistics. I argue that Jewish social sci-ence did not favor the typological thinking that was inherent to race theory in the early twen-tieth century. Instead, most Jewish statisticians rejected the biologically determined concept of race and were much more inclined toward explanations framed in cultural terms. Yet these explanations also conveyed essentialist tropes about the productive capacities of Jewish workers that were consistent with the language and framework of racial thinking.
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Dates et versions

hal-03889837 , version 1 (08-12-2022)

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  • HAL Id : hal-03889837 , version 1

Citer

Nicolas Vallois. Statistics, Race, and Essentialism in the Debate over Jewish Employment Structure (1905-39). Jewish Social Studies, 2022, 27 (1), pp.185-225. ⟨hal-03889837⟩
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