3008 middleman minorities

study of the causes of suicide (Durkheim 1952).
He argued that suicidal inclinations were gen
erated by bonds that were too loose (egoism)
or too tight (altruism). This theory extends
Durkheims by describing the microscopic
components of this system, and also the struc
ture of a secure bond, which Durkheim only
implies one that is neither too loose nor too
tight. In this scheme, a secure bond involves a
balance between the viewpoint of self and
other. Although each party understands and
accepts the viewpoint of the other, this accep
tance does not go to either extreme: neither
giving up major parts of ones own viewpoint
out of loyalty (engulfment), nor discounting the
others viewpoint (isolation).
The idea of balance leads to a crucial distinc
tion between a secure bond (genuine solidarity)
and an engulfed bond (blind loyalty). These two
states are usually confounded in social science.
Instead of seeing blind loyalty as a type of alie
nation (from self), it is seen as closeness. But the
individual who is not attuned to self cannot be
close (attuned) with anyone else either.
A second advantage is that this model of
integration is grounded at both the interperso
nal and the intergroup levels. The Kunderarian
idea of the concrete reality of relationships can
be implemented by close study of verbatim
recordings at the interpersonal level, and by
the close analysis of the texts of exchanges
between leaders of groups at the collective level.
An example of dialogue between leaders of
groups can be found in an analysis of the letters
exchanged immediately before the beginning of
World War I by the Kaiser of Germany and the
Tsar of Russia, and between the Kaiser and the
prime minister of England (Scheff 1994: 824).
Their letters betray some of the emotional bases
of what turned out to be an unnecessary and
ruinously destructive war.
The version of microsociology proposed here
can be applied both to interpersonal and socie
tal interaction in a way that may afford a path
to linking the least parts (words and gestures)
to greatest wholes (abstract theories and social

SEE ALSO: Conversation Analysis; Cooley,
Charles Horton; Ethnography; Goffman, Erving;
Looking Glass Self; Mead, George Herbert;
MicroMacro Links; Social Psychology
Durkheim, E. (1952 [1905]) Suicide. Routledge,
Kundera, M. (1995) Testaments Betrayed. Harper
Collins, New York.
Scheff, T. J. (1994) Bloody Revenge: Emotions,
Nationalism, War. Westview Press, Boulder.
Scheff, T. J. (2006) Goffman Unbound: Toward a
New Paradigm. Paradigm Publishers, Boulder.

middleman minorities

Pyong Gap Min

Before the 1960s, social scientists usually used
the dichotomous concepts of majorityminority
groups or dominantsubordinate groups to dis
cuss ethnic and race relations in the United
States and other multi ethnic societies. How
ever, they found they needed a new concept to
refer to those minority groups that stood
between these two poles in social status and
economic role. Thus, they created the concept
of middleman minorities to refer to these inter
mediate groups since the 1960s (Blalock 1967:
7984; Eitzen 1971; Bonacich 1972; Bonacich &
Modell 1980; Turner & Bonacich 1980; Zenner
1991; Min 1996).
The most important characteristic of middle
man minorities is their intermediary economic
role between the producers of the dominant
group and the consuming masses (minority
customers). Middleman minority members
bridge a huge status gap existent in the host
society by distributing products made by mem
bers of the ruling group to minority customers.
Thus, their businesses are heavily concentrated
in trade in low income minority neighborhoods.
Middleman minorities are also characterized
by their subjection to host hostility. On the
one hand, middleman merchants encounter boy
cotts and arson of their stores, and other forms of
rejection, by minority customers they serve. On
the other hand, in time of political crisis, they
can be scapegoated by the ruling group that
controls the economy. Finally, another impor
tant characteristic of middleman minorities is