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ISR survey of Arab Americans in Detroit area set to start in 2003

A landmark survey of Arab Americans in the Detroit area will be conducted by the Institute for Social Research (ISR), says ISR research scientist Wayne Baker, the project's team leader.

"The aftermath of Sept. 11 has brought new urgency to issues of national identity, multiculturalism and social trust and has raised new questions about what 'being an American' means," says Baker, who is principal investigator of the study with U-M­Dearborn Center for Arab American Studies researcher Ronald Stockton "In defending themselves against the suspicion of terrorism, Arab Americans have been forced to confront their own national, religious and ethnic commitments, as well as their trust in U.S. institutions. This survey will also explore their relationships to each other, to non-Arab Americans and to their relatives, friends and other Arabs in the Middle East."

Funding for the survey comes from a $755,000 grant from the Russell Sage Foundation, along with seed money provided by U-M in Ann Arbor and Dearborn.

Currently estimated at between 100,000 and 300,000 persons, the tri-county Detroit Arab American and Chaldean community is one of the largest, most concentrated and best known Arab expatriate populations in the world. According to Baker and Stockton, it also is one of the most diverse, in religion as well as national origin with Lebanese, Palestinians, Yemenis and Iraqis living alongside Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Moroccans, and people from other Middle Eastern and North African countries. By sampling 1,000 Arab Americans in the Detroit area, plus another 500 non-Arabs, the researchers hope to document the similarities and differences in attitudes, behavior and opinions among various Arab American groups and between these groups and other Americans.

Face-to-face interviews with randomly selected residents are scheduled to begin in early spring 2003 and will continue throughout the summer. The ISR survey research team will recruit Arabic-speaking interviewers from the community to conduct the survey and is working with community groups in developing the survey questionnaire. Preliminary findings from the survey will be available in fall 2003.

Co-principal investigators of the study include U-M researchers Sally Howell, Ann Chih Lin, Andrew Shryock and Mark Tessler, and Columbia University researcher Amaney Jamal.


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