Economic Sociology of Immigration, The

Economic Sociology of Immigration, The: Essays on Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship

Alejandro Portes EDITOR
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Economic Sociology of Immigration, The
    Book Description:

    The Economic Sociology of Immigration forges a dynamic link between the theoretical innovations of economic sociology with the latest empirical findings from immigration research, an area of critical concern as the problems of ethnic poverty and inequality become increasingly profound. Alejandro Portes' lucid overview of sociological approaches to economic phenomena provides the framework for six thoughtful, wide-ranging investigations into ethnic and immigrant labor networks and social resources, entrepreneurship, and cultural assimilation. Mark Granovetter illustrates how small businesses built on the bonds of ethnicity and kinship can, under certain conditions, flourish remarkably well. Bryan R. Roberts demonstrates how immigrant groups' expectations of the duration of their stay influence their propensity toward entrepreneurship. Ivan Light and Carolyn Rosenstein chart how specific metropolitan environments have stimulated or impeded entrepreneurial ventures in five ethnic populations. Saskia Sassen provides a revealing analysis of the unexpectedly flexible and vital labor market networks maintained between immigrants and their native countries, while M. Patricia Fernandez Kelly looks specifically at the black inner city to examine how insular cultural values hinder the acquisition of skills and jobs outside the neighborhood. Alejandro Portes also depicts the difference between the attitudes of American-born youths and those of recent immigrants and its effect on the economic success of immigrant children.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-452-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Robert K. Merton

    The title and subtitle of this finely calibrated volume serve its potential readers well. The title instantly directs attention to its principal scholarly aim—a linkage and partial fusion of ideas central to both economic sociology and the sociology of immigration, fields that are experiencing an energetic renewel and, I think it safe to say, definite advancement. In turn, the subtitle signals us that the book draws upon theoretically oriented empirical studies of immigration, ethnicity, and entrepreneurship, thus providing readers with far more than another set of wholly programmatic reflections on those reemerging fields of sociological inquiry.

    The title and...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Alejandro Portes
  5. 1 Economic Sociology and the Sociology of Immigration: A Conceptual Overview
    (pp. 1-41)
    Alejandro Portes

    The sociological perspective on the economy is currently experiencing a vigorous revival. Its resurgence has been due, in part, to mounting doubts within the discipline of economics itself that neoclassical theory provides a satisfactory framework for the explanation of numerous aspects of economic life. In part, economic sociology has gained renewed energy from the realization among sociologists that much of what is missing in the dominant economic approach is social in nature and, hence, within their purview. With some exceptions, sociology has left behind rigid versions of both functionalism and Marxism, and this has given the discipline new freedom to...

  6. 2 Socially Expected Durations and the Economic Adjustment of Immigrants
    (pp. 42-86)
    Bryan R. Roberts

    Immigrants of different national or ethnic origins vary widely in their economic adjustment in the United States. First-generation immigrants and, at times, their descendants have differed in their occupations, in their propensity to be self-employed, and in their average incomes or levels of education.¹ Some explanations of these variations, such as those of neoclassical economists, attribute them to the individual endowments of immigrant groups in terms of education, work skills, or values. However, explanations that only consider individual endowments are inevitably partial, since the usefulness of endowments depends not only on the economic context but on a supportive social environment....

  7. 3 Immigration and Local Labor Markets
    (pp. 87-127)
    Saskia Sassen

    Using constructs from the new economic sociology and data from the immigration literature, this chapter develops the concept of the local labor market. Going beyond the focus on the moment of exchange typical in neoclassical analyses, the purpose here is to capture the impact of pre- and post-exchange processes. This has the effect of expanding the analytic terrain within which we conceptualize labor market operation. In principle this type of analytic effort can assume several conceptual forms; working with the data on immigration and the concepts in the new economic sociology contributes to a recentering of labor market operation in...

  8. 4 The Economic Sociology of Firms and Entrepreneurs
    (pp. 128-165)
    Mark Granovetter

    In this chapter I analyze some of the ways in which social structure determines the scope of economic action, with special attention to the significance for the emergence of entrepreneurial activity of the complex social networks found in many ethnic and immigrant communities.

    One of the obvious facts of economic life is that some individuals not only have others with whom they regularly coordinate economic activity, but also assemble relationships with them into organized combinations of activity that we call “ firms.” Although the question of why firms should exist was asked relatively late in the history of neoclassical economic theory...

  9. 5 Expanding the Interaction Theory of Entrepreneurship
    (pp. 166-212)
    Ivan Light and Carolyn Rosenstein

    Max weber declared that economic sociology must start from the desire for utilities and the provision to furnish them.¹ Adhering to this tradition, textbooks have long claimed that both supply and demand require attention in a complete explanation of entrepreneurship.² Smelser writes that “like all markets, the market for entrepreneurial services has a demand and a supply side,” underscoring the fact that both sides require attention.³ Yet, despite the theoretical centrality of these terms, definitions of demand and supply are few.⁴ Berg and DiMaggio discuss demand, but neither defines it.⁵ Neither Stinchcombe nor Martinelli and Smelser index either demand or...

  10. 6 Social and Cultural Capital in the Urban Ghetto: Implications for the Economic Sociology of Immigration
    (pp. 213-247)
    M. Patricia Fernández Kelly

    The purpose of this chapter is to examine the relationship between social and cultural capital. To achieve that end, I focus on early motherhood among impoverished ghetto women. The subject is of interest given differing perspectives that assign causal priority either to anomalous cultural norms and values or to situational factors. I resort to four sets of ideas derived from the field of economic sociology: (a) the effect of membership in social networks characterized by low levels of what Jeremy Boissevain callsmultiplexity,that is, internal differentiation in terms of role, status, and field of activity; (b) the ensuing truncation...

  11. 7 Children of Immigrants: Segmented Assimilation and Its Determinants
    (pp. 248-280)
    Alejandro Portes

    Growing up in an immigrant family has always been a difficult process of reconciling the language and cultural orientations of foreign-born parents with the demands for assimilation of the host society. In the American experience, the process has traditionally been portrayed as a seldom-resolved series of familial and social-psychological tensions which often culminate either in a rejection of the parental culture or a retreat from confrontation with outside society. Those children of immigrants who are able to move successfully between the two worlds represent a minority.¹ Studies of the second generation virtually ceased in the 1950s after the coming-of-age of...

  12. Index
    (pp. 281-312)