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Governing American Cities

Governing American Cities: Inter-Ethnic Coalitions, Competition, and Conflict

Michael Jones-Correa Editor
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Governing American Cities
    Book Description:

    The new immigrants who have poured into the United States over the past thirty years are rapidly changing the political landscape of American cities. Like their predecessors at the turn of the century, recent immigrants have settled overwhelmingly in a few large urban areas, where they receive their first sustained experience with government in this country, including its role in policing, housing, health care, education, and the job market.Governing American Citiesbrings together the best research from both established and rising scholars to examine the changing demographics of America's cities, the experience of these new immigrants, and their impact on urban politics.

    Building on the experiences of such large ports of entry as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, and Washington D.C.,Governing American Citiesaddresses important questions about the incorporation of the newest immigrants into American political life. Are the new arrivals joining existing political coalitions or forming new ones? Where competition exists among new and old ethnic and racial groups, what are its characteristics and how can it be harnessed to meet the needs of each group? How do the answers to these questions vary across cities and regions?

    In one chapter, Peter Kwong uses New York's Chinatown to demonstrate how divisions within immigrant communities can cripple efforts to mobilize immigrants politically. Sociologist Guillermo Grenier uses the relationship between blacks and Latinos in Cuban-American dominated Miami to examine the nature of competition in a city largely controlled by a single ethnic group. And Matthew McKeever takes the 1997 mayoral race in Houston as an example of the importance of inter-ethnic relations in forging a successful political consensus. Other contributors compare the response of cities with different institutional set-ups; some cities have turned to the private sector to help incorporate the new arrivals, while others rely on traditional political channels.

    Governing American Citiescrosses geographic and disciplinary borders to provide an illuminating review of the complex political negotiations taking place between new immigrants and previous residents as cities adjust to the newest ethnic succession. A solution-oriented book, the authors use concrete case studies to help formulate suggestions and strategies, and to highlight the importance of reframing urban issues away from the zero-sum battles of the past.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-321-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Michael Jones-Correa
  5. Introduction Comparative Approaches to Changing Interethnic Relations in Cities
    (pp. 1-14)
    Michael Jones-Correa

    In 2000, the United States Census Bureau announced that first-generation immigrants—those born abroad—constituted 10.4 percent of the American population. This figure represents the highest proportion since the 1940s and is more than double the 1970s level of 4.7 percent. In the 1990s, 8.6 million immigrants came to America, adding to the 8.3 million who arrived in the 1980s and the 11.5 million who arrived before 1980 (Jaret 1991; Portes and Rumbaut 1990; Waldinger 1989). As the population grows, almost one out of every two new Americans is an immigrant. Yet even though the number of immigrants to the...


    • Chapter 1 Immigrant Political Participation in New York and Los Angeles
      (pp. 17-70)
      John Mollenkopf, David Olson and Timothy Ross

      According to Current Population Survey data collected in March 2000, 28.4 million, or 10.4 percent, of the nation’s 274.0 million residents were born abroad and migrated to the United States. Less noted, but of potentially even greater significance, is that these immigrants have 27.5 million American-born children, who themselves constitute another 10.0 percent of the national population. Putting these numbers together, then, reveals that immigrants and their American-born children today make up slightly more than one-fifth of the nation’s total population (see table 1.1). Moreover, foreign-born people represent 12.7 percent of the nation’s voting age population and their children 7.9...

    • Chapter 2 Ethnic Subcontracting as an Impediment to Interethnic Coalitions: The Chinese Experience
      (pp. 71-90)
      Peter Kwong

      Throughout American history, American businesses have recruited wave after wave of immigrants during times of economic expansion, both to address perceived labor shortages and to undermine upward pressures on wages. Immigrants generally encountered low wages, poor working conditions, and hostility from other workers, who saw them as economic competitors. In the case of the Chinese, this hostility from Americans assumed a racial dimension as well, and was therefore much more intense than that encountered by most other immigrants. Chinese immigrants were perceived as unassimilable “aliens.” In the late nineteenth century, this perception prompted white workers not only to call for...

    • Chapter 3 Korean Americans and the Crisis of the Liberal Coalition: Immigrants and Politics in Los Angeles
      (pp. 91-108)
      Edward J.W. Park and John S.W. Park

      On April 17, 1997, under the sponsorship of the City of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California hosted a “Day of Dialogue” to foster interracial understanding. As the discussion quickly balkanized around the topic of minority political empowerment in Los Angeles, an elderly African American man admonished the participants with some historical perspective. After recounting his experience as a grassroots organizer in Tom Bradley’s 1969 and 1973 mayoral campaigns, he counseled, “Blacks alone could not have elected Tom Bradley to the mayor’s office. We needed the support of whites from the Westside, Hispanics from the Eastside, and Asians from...


    • Chapter 4 Racial Minority Group Relations in a Multiracial Society
      (pp. 111-136)
      Paula D. McClain and Steven C. Tauber

      The United States Census Bureau estimates that by 2005, Latinos will displace blacks as the largest racial-minority group in the United States (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996a). The Bureau also estimates that by 2015, several states, California and New Mexico foremost among them, will become majority-minority, with members of racial-minority groups, as opposed to whites, constituting the majority of their populations (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996b). This changing racial dynamic raises important questions for the nation concerning the relationship patterns that will evolve among these various groups. These changes are also forcing scholars in urban politics, and scholars...

    • Chapter 5 Blacks and Cubans in Miami: The Negative Consequences of the Cuban Enclave on Ethnic Relations
      (pp. 137-157)
      Guillermo J. Grenier and Max Castro

      In the fall of 1990, Arthur Teele got to know Miami’s Calle Ocho very well. Teele, an African American Republican who had made his name as a functionary in Ronald Reagan's Department of Transportation, was running for Dade County commissioner. His opponent, the incumbent commissioner Babara Carey, was well known and respected in the black community. Teele did the numbers and decided that his best chance to win the at-large seat was by focusing on the Cuban community. He said as much: “[W]e felt that the only place that we could not beat Commissioner Carey was in the black community....

    • Chapter 6 Protest or Violence: Political Process and Patterns of Black-Korean Conflict
      (pp. 158-180)
      Patrick D. Joyce

      In the early 1990s, devastating civil unrest in Los Angeles and a contentious boycott in New York City alerted the nation to a puzzling new feature of race relations in its largest cities: tensions between African Americans and Korean Americans. Each of these cities, however, expressed these tensions differently. In Los Angeles, legal scholar Reginald Robinson noted that an inescapable “violent reality” existed for these two groups, both before and during the 1992 riots: “The violence between African-and Korean Americans reflects their inability to find an alternative bridging language by which each group can peacefully co-exist with the other,” he...


    • Chapter 7 Structural Shifts and Institutional Capacity: Possibilities for Ethnic Cooperation and Conflict in Urban Settings
      (pp. 183-209)
      Michael Jones-Correa

      American cities experienced four major changes in the 1980s and 1990s: First, immigration transformed urban populations, so that cities’ populations at the end of the decade were significantly more ethnically diverse. Second, significant portions of the middle class of all ethnic and racial groups left for the suburbs, leaving urban residents much more polarized along class lines. Third, service industries replaced manufacturing, so that there were fewer secure and well-paying jobs for those with fewer skills. Finally, the federal government scaled back its financial support for urban areas, so that cities had to manage these changes on their own. These...

    • Chapter 8 When Ideologies Agree and Interests Collide, What’s a Leader to Do? The Prospects for Latino-Jewish Coalition in Los Angeles
      (pp. 210-229)
      Raphael J. Sonenshein

      To gain a foothold in American society and secure their rights and interests, minority groups historically have had to choose from several paths of political action. Should they go it alone, join forces with other minorities against the dominant majority, or forge alliances with elements within the majority group? And on what basis should any alliances be forged?

      For Latinos and Jews, two pivotal groups in contemporary urban America, these questions have special currency and arise within a paradoxical sociological framework: it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find two other groups whose current political behavior so resemble each...

    • Chapter 9 Interethnic Politics in the Consensus City
      (pp. 230-248)
      Matthew McKeever

      In most major American cities, it is increasingly difficult for politicians to run as the representatives of any single ethnic or racial community. While social science research has been charting the rise of African Americans in urban politics over the past twenty-five years, American cities have been undergoing great demographic changes that have forced both politicians and analysts to abandon the not-so-old model of biracial urban politics. The influx of large numbers of immigrants from Asia and Latin America, as well as the increased urbanization of Mexican Americans throughout the Southwest, has greatly changed the racial balance of most major...

  9. Index
    (pp. 249-259)