This thesis explores what ethnic identity means for Polish American in the Cleveland area, and how it is maintained. The methodology consists of twelve ethnographic interviews, representing social variables of class, generation, and immigration. The interviews addressed the issues of identity and the involvement within the Polish American community, Polonia, which as been outlined in the review of literature. The gathered material was analyzed through various theoretical approaches to ethnicity and identity, such as situational ethnicity, the boundary approach Gordon's "ethclass", and Reminick's model of identity. A distinction has been found within the Polish American community along the lines of class and generation. Education level of various immigrants also becomes an important variable in understanding the composition of Cleveland's Polonia. Similarities do exist among all these Polish Americans, through their shared symbols and traditions of cultural pride. It is suggested that the term Polonia itself, exists as a powerful symbol of commonality for the ethnic group. Further research is suggested which focuses on a larger representation of Cleveland's Polish Americans in finding deeper themes of shared similarities. An in-depth exploration of Cleveland's organizations is also suggested for a stronger understanding of the physical structures of identity.


Kardulias, P. Nicholas


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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