Leonard Plotnicov was professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh and editor of the journal Ethnology.
American Culture comprises fifteen essays looking at the familiar and the less familiar in American society: urbanites in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, rural communities in the American West, Hispanics in Wisconsin, Samoans in California, the Amish, and the utopian religious communities of the Shakers and Oneida. The essays address a wide range of topics and a spectrum of occupations-miners, whalers, farmers, factory workers, physicians and nurses-to consider such questions as why some religious sects remain distinctive, separate, and viable; how groups use of such things as nicknames and family reunions to maintain ties within the community; how immigrant communities organize to sustain traditional cultural activities.
The essays in this volume represent trends in social stratification studies undertaken in major culture areas of the world. The empirical data of the chapters are set with special reference to the dynamics of processes within these diverse traditions and heritages as sources of comparison with one another and with the experiences of western societies.
Leonard Plotnicov offers a fascinating study of the urbanization of tribal Africans. His study is based on extensive interviews with residents of Jos, Nigeria over a two-year period. The participants come from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds, and Plotnicov portrays the difficulties associated with assimilation into a Westernized society.