Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Handbook of International Migration, The

Handbook of International Migration, The: The American Experience

Charles Hirschman
Philip Kasinitz
Josh DeWind
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 520
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610442893
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Handbook of International Migration, The
    Book Description:

    The historic rise in international migration over the past thirty years has brought a tide of new immigrants to the United States from Asia, South America, and other parts of the globe. Their arrival has reverberated throughout American society, prompting an outpouring of scholarship on the causes and consequences of the new migrations. The Handbook of International Migration gathers the best of this scholarship in one volume to present a comprehensive overview of the state of immigration research in this country, bringing coherence and fresh insight to this fast growing field.The contributors to The Handbook of International Migration—a virtual who's who of immigration scholars—draw upon the best social science theory and demographic research to examine the effects and implications of immigration in the United States. The dramatic shift in the national background of today's immigrants away from primarily European roots has led many researchers to rethink traditional theories of assimilation,and has called into question the usefulness of making historical comparisons between today's immigrants and those of previous generations. Part I of the Handbook examines current theories of international migration, including the forces that motivate people to migrate, often at great financial and personal cost. Part II focuses on how immigrants are changed after their arrival, addressing such issues as adaptation, assimilation, pluralism, and socioeconomic mobility. Finally, Part III looks at the social, economic, and political effects of the surge of new immigrants on American society. Here the Handbook explores how the complex politics of immigration have become intertwined with economic perceptions and realities, racial and ethnic divisions,and international relations. A landmark compendium of richly nuanced investigations, The Handbook of International Migration will be the major reference work on recent immigration to this country and will enhance the development of a truly interdisciplinary field of international migration studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-289-3
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Reynolds Farley

    Thirty-five years ago no political observer or social scientist predicted that the population of the United States would grow rapidly because of increased immigration, nor that the nation’s social and economic structure would change due to the arrival of millions of people from countries around the world. Most demographers agreed that the massive flow of immigrants into this country during the first two decades of this century had ended with the restrictive laws of the 1920s (except for a few groups allowed to enter as a consequence of World War II), but the unforeseen occurred. The United States now receives...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction International Migration and Immigration Research: The State of the Field
    (pp. 1-12)

    The last decades of the twentieth century have witnessed a revival of large-scale immigration to the United States. The rise in the number of immigrants and the dramatic change in their national origins are revealed in a simple comparison between the 1950s and the 1980s. More than two-thirds of the 2.5 million immigrants admitted during the 1950s were from Europe, while more than 80 percent of the 7.3 million immigrants who arrived in the 1980s were from Latin America and Asia (Rumbaut 1996, 25). At century’s end, the proportion of persons of foreign birth is inching closer to 10 percent...

  7. Part I Theories and Concepts of International Migration

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 13-20)

      In the opening essay in this section, Alejandro Portes cautions scholars against attempting to formulate a “grand theory” of immigration to the United States. He asserts that a unifying theory, which presumably would seek to explain the origins, processes, and outcomes of international migration, would have to be posed at so general a level of abstraction as to be futile or vacuous. For example, he argues, “the theory that colonial capitalist penetration played a significant role in the initiation of large-scale labor migration from less developed countries says nothing about who among the population of those countries was more likely...

    • 1 Immigration Theory for a New Century: Some Problems and Opportunities
      (pp. 21-33)
      Alejandro Portes

      At the turn of the century, many immigrants launched their American careers not only in new cities and new jobs, but with new names. How this happened symbolized the confident and careless way in which the country treated its newcomers then. At Ellis Island, busy immigration inspectors did not have much time to scrutinize papers or to struggle with difficult spellings. When necessary, they just rebaptized the immigrant on the spot. Thus, the German Jew who, flustered by the impatient questioning of the inspector, blurted out in Yiddish, “Schoyn Vergessen” (I forget), was promptly welcomed to America by the inspector...

    • 2 Why Does Immigration Occur? A Theoretical Synthesis
      (pp. 34-52)
      Douglas S. Massey

      The modern history of international migration can be divided roughly into four periods. During themercantile period, from 1500 to 1800, world immigration flows were dominated by Europe and stemmed from processes of colonization and economic growth under mercantile capitalism. Over the course of three hundred years, Europeans inhabited large portions of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Although the exact number of colonizing emigrants is unknown, the outflow was sufficient to establish Europe’s dominion over large parts of the world. During this period, emigrants generally fell into three classes: a relatively large number of agrarian settlers, a smaller number...

    • 3 The Role of Gender, Households, and Social Networks in the Migration Process: A Review and Appraisal
      (pp. 53-70)
      Patricia R. Pessar

      This review focuses on the role of gender, households, and social networks in the migration process. The decision to assemble these three structures in one review essay may strike some as quite natural, and others as arbitrary. The three share an epistemological affinity of sorts. Their inclusion in migration scholarship emerged out of a growing consensus regarding the inadequacy of theories and research that privilege either individual migrants (usually conceived of as males or genderless) or global structures and processes, such as the world system and capital accumulation. The inclusion of mediating units, such as gender, households, and social networks,...

    • 4 Matters of State: Theorizing Immigration Policy
      (pp. 71-93)
      Aristide R. Zolberg

      “There are times when, as I look at the regulations of the countries of the world affecting immigrants, I see in my mind’s eye the building up of walled-in countries, much like the wall-encircled towns of the medieval period” (Fields 1938, 3). Conjured up two-thirds of a century ago, this metaphoric representation of the outcome of the industrialized world’s first immigration crisis is appropriate for our own times as well. Yet considering the pervasiveness of barriers to immigration, mirrored throughout much of the twentieth century by draconian prohibitions on exit that confined hundreds of millions to their countries for many...

    • 5 Transmigrants and Nation-States: Something Old and Something New in the U.S. Immigrant Experience
      (pp. 94-119)
      Nina Glick Schiller

      The phone rings, and the news is as she expected. Sitting alone in her basement bedroom in her cousin’s home in New York City, Yvette begins to shake. Her older sister in Haiti, a sister she barely knows, is calling to announce the death of Yvette’s nephew. Although she has received the call while the body is still warm, Yvette shakes not so much from the loss of the young man, whom she had met only once, as from knowing that it is her obligation immediately to find the money for an elaborate funeral in Haiti complete with cars, band,...

    • 6 Theories of International Migration and Immigration: A Preliminary Reconnaissance of Ideal Types
      (pp. 120-126)
      Charles Hirschman

      Neither scientific theory nor ideas for empirical research develop out of thin air. Although the image of the solitary researcher working with only her or his imagination persists in the popular imagination, and even in some scholarly circles, research is a profoundly interactive and social process. Most research work invariably originates in a dialogue with the scholarly literature, which serves as the primary means of communication among active researchers. Ideas and hypotheses often arise in response to the published work of other scholars as well as from conversations with colleagues and students. Moreover, the influence of ideas from outside the...

  8. Part II Immigrant Adaptation, Assimilation, and Incorporation

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 127-136)

      What happens to immigrants and how do they and their children become part of American life? These are the questions that motivate the chapters in part II of this volume. The fundamental concept in the field is assimilation, but it has hardly been a unifying concept. Indeed, the debates over assimilation theory sometimes obscure the many common points of reference for researchers in the field. And as immigration to America has shifted from primarily European roots to more diverse geographical origins, immigration scholarship has increasingly drawn from a broader range of alternative theories and models—from race and ethnic studies...

    • 7 Rethinking Assimilation Theory for a New Era of Immigration
      (pp. 137-160)
      Richard Alba and Victor Nee

      Assimilation has fallen into disrepute. In an essay tellingly entitled “Is Assimilation Dead?” Nathan Glazer (1993, 122) summarizes pithily the contemporary view: “Assimilation today is not a popular term.” Glazer writes that he asked some Harvard students what they thought of the term and discovered that “the large majority had a negative reaction to it.” The rejection of assimilation is not limited to students. While it was once the unquestioned organizing concept in sociological studies of ethnic relations, in recent decades assimulation has come to be viewed by social scientists as a worn-out theory that imposes ethnocentric and patronizing demands...

    • 8 Toward a Reconciliation of “Assimilation” and “Pluralism”: The Interplay of Acculturation and Ethnic Retention
      (pp. 161-171)
      Herbert J. Gans

      For much of the last half of the twentieth century, sociologists of ethnicity have been classified into two positions that are usually described as assimilationist or pluralist.¹ The positions have long been widely used, but even so, they suffer from at least three conceptual and other shortcomings.

      First, the empirical researchers placed in one or the other position are frequently conflated with the normative thinkers so that the former are then wrongly characterized as favoring that position. Sometimes empirical researchers are even being accused of hiding their norms behind empirical language. (A possible solution, for which it is probably too...

    • 9 Assimilation and Its Discontents: Ironies and Paradoxes
      (pp. 172-195)
      Rubén G. Rumbaut

      Few concepts in the history of American sociology have been as all-encompassing and consequential as “assimilation,” or as fraught with irony and paradox. Few have so tapped and touched the pulse of the American experience. That master concept long ago penetrated the public discourse and seeped into the national narrative, offering an elemental explanation for a phenomenal accomplishment—the remarkable capacity of a self-professed nation of immigrants to absorb, like a giant global sponge, tens of millions of newcomers of all classes, cultures, and countries from all over the world.¹ And yet, few concepts have been so misused and misunderstood,...

    • 10 Segmented Assimilation: Issues, Controversies, and Recent Research on the New Second Generation
      (pp. 196-211)
      Min Zhou

      The segmented assimilation theory offers a theoretical framework for understanding the process by which the new second generation—the children of contemporary immigrants—becomes incorporated into the system of stratification in the host society and the different outcomes of this process. Alejandro Portes and I (Portes and Zhou 1993, 82) have observed three possible patterns of adaptation that are most likely to occur among contemporary immigrants and their offspring: “One of them replicates the time-honored portrayal of growing acculturation and parallel integration into the white middle-class; a second leads straight into the opposite direction to permanent poverty and assimilation into...

    • 11 Social and Linguistic Aspects of Assimilation Today
      (pp. 212-222)
      David E. López

      The most frequently posed question surrounding the “new immigration” is economic: Will immigrant groups entering near the bottom of American society, as nearly all did in the past, make the same intergenerational climb up the ladder of success, or will they be stuck in the cellar? This question is particularly pressing in California, where poor Latino immigrants and their children constitute a minority on the way to becoming the majority. Evidence is mixed, and ultimately only time will tell. In the meantime, we have the unique opportunity to study the myriad adaptation processes, cultural and social-structural as well as economic,...

    • 12 Immigrants, Past and Present: A Reconsideration
      (pp. 223-238)
      Joel Perlmann and Roger Waldinger

      Thirty years after the 1965 Hart-Celler Act brought renewed immigration to the United States, the immigration research agenda is slowly shifting from the newcomers to their children. While the timing is hardly fortuitous—the immigrants’ children have only recently become a sizable presence in American schools and are just now moving from the schools into the labor market—the striking feature of this emerging scholarship is pessimism. Recent publications by Herbert Gans, Alejandro Portes, Rubén Rumbaut, and Min Zhou—leading students of American ethnic life—outline, with clarity and acuity, the reasons for concern: coming from everywhere but Europe, today’s...

    • 13 Immigrants’ Socioeconomic Progress Post-1965: Forging Mobility or Survival?
      (pp. 239-256)
      Rebeca Raijman and Marta Tienda

      Three sets of circumstances have changed the economic prospects of recent immigrants. First, the composition of immigrants has shifted toward Asia and Latin America, away from their historically (white) European-origin countries, and the education (skill) composition of new arrivals has become more diversified relative to earlier periods. Recent cohorts exhibit a close correspondence between region of origin and completed schooling, with the most educated immigrants arriving from Asian, African, and European countries, and the least educated from Latin America. Trends in the education and national-origin composition of recent arrivals are germane for appreciating immigrants’ socioeconomic progress because they define the...

    • 14 The Immigrant Family: Cultural Legacies and Cultural Changes
      (pp. 257-264)
      Nancy Foner

      Immigrants live out much of their lives in the context of families. A lot has been written about the way family networks stimulate and facilitate the migration process itself; the role of family ties and networks in helping immigrants get jobs when they arrive in the United States; and the role of families in developing strategies for survival and assisting immigrants in the process of adjustment, providing a place where newcomers can find solace and support in a strange land and pool their resources as a way to advance. Along with the increasing interest in gender and generation, there is...

  9. Part III The American Response to Immigration

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 265-274)

      As America has remade the immigrants, immigration has, in every generation, remade America. This is not only because of the large number of immigrants the United States has incorporated, although those numbers are indeed impressive.¹ Nor is it only because of the obvious role that immigrants and their descendants have played in the nation’s popular culture, the settlement of the frontier, the creativity of American science and arts, or the extraordinaty entrepreneurial and technological innovation that drives the American economy. It is also because of the continuous interaction between immigrants and natives—natives who are, as often as not, the...

    • 15 Liberty, Coercion, and the Making of Americans
      (pp. 275-293)
      Gary Gerstle

      In 1782 a French immigrant, Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, publishedLetters from an American Farmer, one of the most influential meditations on what it means to become an American. In his letters, Crèvecoeur portrayed America as a magical place free of the encrusted beliefs, customs, and traditions that had disfigured European society. Here a new race of men had emerged. In a famous passage, Crèvecoeur (1782/1912, 43) wrote:

      What then is the American, this new man? … He is an American who, leaving behind him all ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life...

    • 16 Immigration and Political Incorporation in the Contemporary United States
      (pp. 294-318)
      David Plotke

      The political meaning of the large immigration to the United States in the last two decades has been vigorously debated. In this chapter, I make two main claims about its effects and significance. First, immigration at recent levels does not endanger democratic practices. Second, political incorporation is less difficult for new citizens than it was at the beginning of the twentieth century. To sustain this view, I evaluate contemporary immigration in the context of American political development. I evaluate contemporary immigration in the context of American political development. I frequently compare immigration today with its features during the last major...

    • 17 Historical Perspectives on the Economic Consequences of Immigration into the United States
      (pp. 319-341)
      Susan B. Carter and Richard Sutch

      Today is not the first time that high and rising levels of immigration into the United States have brought the economic consequences of immigration to the forefront of both policy and scholarly debate. Figure 17.1 displays the official figures on the number of immigrants admitted into the United States between 1820 and 1996. In the long view afforded by this table, current flows, high as they are, only now are approaching the record levels reached in the period before World War I.¹ Having been there before, there may be something to gain by reviewing the scholarship on the economic impacts...

    • 18 Immigration and the Receiving Economy
      (pp. 342-359)
      Rachel M. Friedberg and Jennifer Hunt

      The public debate over immigration policy in the United States has become quite heated in recent years. The passage of Proposition 187 in California in 1994, making illegal aliens ineligible for public health and education services, and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which curtailed immigrants’ eligibility for public assistance, may herald the beginning of a new period of tighter restrictions on immigration and immigrant rights in the United States.

      In assessing where the U.S. government should stand on issues related to immigration policy, it is important to have a firm grasp of the facts concerning...

    • 19 Fiscal Impacts of Immigrants and the Shrinking Welfare State
      (pp. 360-370)
      Thomas J. Espenshade and Gregory A. Huber

      Economic consequences of immigration are usually sorted into two categories. The one that has received the most attention from economists concerns the labor market impacts of immigrants. How do increased supplies of foreign workers in domestic labor markets affect the earnings and employment opportunities of native workers? Despite a widely shared view among the American public that immigrants take jobs away from U.S. workers, increase unemployment, and depress wages (Espenshade and Hempstead 1996; Espenshade and Belanger 1997), most research has failed to provide strong support for these beliefs (Smith and Edmonston 1997). The research literature has been ably summarized by...

    • 20 Face the Nation: Race, Immigration, and the Rise of Nativism in Late-Twentieth-Century America
      (pp. 371-382)
      George J. Sánchez

      On April 30, 1992, Americans across the nation sat transfixed by a television event that grew to symbolize the sorry state of race relations in late-twentieth-century urban America. The image of Reginald Denny, a white truck driver, being pulled from his cab at the corner of Florence and Normandie Avenues in South Central Los Angeles, beaten and spat upon by a group of young African American males, quickly became a counterimage of the inhumane beating of the black motorist Rodney King a year earlier. These two episodes of racial conflict, both captured on videotape, dominated representations of the Los...

    • 21 Instead of a Sequel, or, How I Lost My Subject
      (pp. 383-389)
      John Higham

      Published in 1955,Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1865–1925was my first book. Memories of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous career of anti-Communist fear-mongering were still vivid. Southern defiance of a Supreme Court order to integrate the public schools was producing an ideological clash as dangerous as any the country had faced since the Civil War (Klarman 1994). It was a good time to be uncovering and examining critically the nationalist hysterias of the past. I had chosen those of the early twentieth century, directed against immigrants and foreign ideas, for they seemed significantly yet obscurely connected...

    • 22 Immigration Reform and the Browning of America: Tensions, Conflicts, and Community Instability in Metropolitan Los Angeles
      (pp. 390-411)
      James H. Johnson Jr., Walter C. Farrell Jr. and Chandra Guinn

      Our nation is in the midst of a rather dramatic demographic transformation that is radically changing all aspects of American society, including the racial and ethnic composition of our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and social and political institutions. As a consequence of heightened immigration—legal and illegal—and high rates of birth among the newly arrived immigrants, nonwhite ethnic minority groups are projected to surpass non-Hispanic whites to become, collectively, the numerical majority of the U.S. population by the fifth decade of the twenty-first century.

      Unfortunately, the nation’s emerging multiethnic, demographic realities are not welcomed or embraced by everyone. In fact,...

    • 23 Urban Political Conflicts and Alliances: New York and Los Angeles Compared
      (pp. 412-422)
      John Hull Mollenkopf

      Economic restructuring and demographic change have transformed the social geography of New York, just as they have that of Los Angeles, creating new fault lines of intergroup competition and conflict and posing significant new challenges to the local political system. Despite differences between the two cities (Los Angeles has more high-tech industry and Latino residents, while New York specializes in advanced corporate services and has more African Americans), the similarities between the two cities’ economies and populations are striking. The nation’s largest and second-largest city are key centers of the global culture industry, house large complexes of financial and corporate...

    • 24 U.S. Immigration and Changing Relations Between African Americans and Latinos
      (pp. 423-432)
      Nestor Rodriguez

      International migration is dramatically altering social-demographic landscapes in U.S. urban areas. Since the 1970s large influxes of new immigrants have substantially altered the ethnic and racial populations of large urban centers—for example, New York, Los Angeles, and Houston—with strong ties to the global economy. Large-scale immigration of peoples from Asia, Latin America, and other world regions has contributed to major social change in these settings by establishing new culturally distinct communities (Lamphere 1992). This development of new communities has produced new patterns of inter- and intragroup relation in large U.S. urban centers.

      with the expansion and diversification of...

  10. References
    (pp. 433-486)
  11. Index
    (pp. 487-506)