Rethinking Italian American Ethnicity: A Middle Space
This chapter argues that a reformulation of the assimilation model is necessary to account for social and cultural changes positioned between Italian immigrant culture and post-ethnic “white privilege”. The segmented assimilation model is especially relevant for New York City and its metropolitan area with large and dense population settlements during the period of mass immigration, but also a renewed immigration after 1945 that fortified outer borough areas into the new millennium. The emergence of a youth subculture underscores the importance of popular culture, leisure, and consumption as construction sites for ethnic identity. Guido is a variable response to the “struggle for recognition and respect” that is at the core of assimilation for minority immigrant groups (Lipsitz 1994). The identity that symbolizes a particular youth style has become the dominant ethnic stereotype for Italian Americans in American society, reworking historical slurs like dago and guinea and suggesting a project rooted in ethnic minority group culture.