In Oscar Handlin’s Immigration Portrayed As an Experience of Uprootedness, he begins by stating that the immigrant movement is initiated by the European peasants. He continues to say that at the dawn of the modern era, “the old structure of an old society” began to collapse, which caused “millions of helpless, bewildered people” to become emigrants. The collapse of the old society had greatly impacted the stability of these peasants. He says that, “The peasants were agriculturists; their livelihood sprang from the earth.” By this he means that the land they cultivated not only represented their community and home but their identity. The bonds, unions, obligations, duties, and connections, these peasants had with this land made up their personal and group identity in society. Handlin states “Emigration was the end of peasant life in Europe; it was also the beginning of life in America.” A move that changed the identity of these peasants in America. They had to learn how to apply their village community experience to life in America; to assimilate both ethnic and American cultures to thrive in this new land. Handlin’s essay is trying to make is that by uprooting from their homelands and emigrating to America, these immigrants changed the socio-cultural dichotomy of society.
In John Bodnar’s Immigration Portrayed As an Experience of Transplantation, he begins with the two immigrant Americas. One immigrant America consisted mainly of works or laborers with menial jobs. This reality of immigrant America was more popular than the other, which “held essentially positions which pursued personal gain and leadership.” However, immigrants that emigrated to the US commonly entered “related worlds which might be termed broadly working class and middle class.” Bodnar ties in and relates capitalism to best explain the ways immigrants managed to fit in the American social order. This is because capitalism best explains how immigrants were able to assimilate into the American workforce and economy. Bodnar uses “Middle-class supporters of capitalism…commercial farmers in Mexico, Sicily, or Hungary…” to demonstrate the smaller, less attainable reality of immigrant America. These types of immigrants were the ones that wielded more power and took advantage of their contemporaries to achieve an improved future of their community. The power of influence was a common trend among these immigrants. Furthermore, John Bodnar states that immigrants, both men and women had emigrated to an American society where they adapted to its social cues and embraced its new capitalism. A feat that allows them to be able to connect their past and culture to their new identities in American society.