Need For Synthesis

Decent Essays

Finally, in his sixth and seventh chapters, Bodnar explains some common misconceptions that have come about over years of immigrant study. First, for example, most scholars write about the opportunity available to immigrants in America, that being the main reason they emigrated; this is not true. Most immigrants emigrated for the good of their families, and once they got to America, moving upward was generally not realistic for a few (if not many) generations. And, overall, most immigrants could find horizontal mobility, but not vertical.13 Second, many scholars concentrate on the immigrant ghetto and associate immigrants with only passing through slums and inner city dwellings like tenements. Bodnar points out that in the early third …show more content…

There were so many different groups of immigrants over the hundred-year period that defines the early immigration years that worked and lived in different cities across America, and creating a synthesis allows us to compare them all at once in thematic contexts to test assumptions and turn them into truths. Bodnar draws on the ideas of Thomas Bender, who advocated for synthetic histories in his article “Whole and Parts: The Need for Synthesis in American History.” In the article, Bender calls for syntheses because they have the responsibility of providing an image of society. And, in order to do that, he cogently argues that the whole scope of the story has to be examined, rather than just the parts. Bender rejects focusing on the individual when it comes to studying American history, writing that in doing so, “we get no image of the whole, and no suggestions about how the parts might go together or even whether they are intended to go together.” Essentially, Bender spells out that it is not possible to tell the story of American history without examining each part that made it up to understand how those parts worked together, interacted, and affected one another. Nothing acts alone; everything is influenced by something. We cannot understand the “why” and “how” questions that life asks without synthesizing the millions of stories that make up history to uncover layers of inner and outer

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