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Sociology Assimilation
by
Van C. Tran

Introduction

The study of immigrant assimilation has had a central place in the discipline of sociology, beginning with sociologists of the Chicago school trying to understand the incorporation of European immigrants and their descendants at the turn of the 20th century. Since 1965, tens of millions of “new” immigrants have arrived, and this influx has rekindled an entire subfield of migration studies in sociology and, to a lesser extent, in anthropology, political science, economics, and history as well. As a result, assimilation research is an interdisciplinary field with a lot of new and exciting scholarships being produced, alongside lively and contentious debates about the fate and fortune of the new second generation (i.e., defined as those who are born in the United States to immigrant parents). Most central to this debate are the theory of straight-line assimilation (and its revised formulations), which was based on the experience of white ethnic groups in the earlier period, and the theory of segmented assimilation, which posits divergent paths for different post-1965 ethnic groups. The study of immigrant assimilation is important because it provides insights on not only how immigrants and their children have been incorporated into the United States, but also how their incorporation might reshape patterns of ethnic and racial inequality. Assimilation also has the potential to affect virtually all aspects of the host society, from its religion and culture to its economy and politics. Because assimilation research is highly interdisciplinary and spans different disciplinary boundaries, an exhaustive bibliography is beyond the scope of this entry. Specifically, this article focuses first and foremost on research done by sociologists, with a primary focus on the United States. Even though assimilation and incorporation are likely to be important factors in most other national and regional contexts, including Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, the majority of the work on this topic has originated in the United States, a country with a significant history of immigrant incorporation. However, this article does strive to include work from a multidisciplinary perspective and relevant comparisons to Europe and other countries when appropriate, although the United States would remain the central point of reference even in these cross-national comparisons. In order to make this effort manageable, this article limits itself to only English-language publications.

General Overviews

The arrival of immigrants since 1965 has generated a lot of research on their experiences and encounters with American society. As a result, a robust literature has developed around the topic of immigrant incorporation and assimilation, with Portes and Rumbaut 2006 and Waters, et al. 2007 being two of the most accessible introductory texts in the field, suitable both for undergraduate and graduate courses. In addition, Hirschman, et al. 1999 is an authoritative source on the multifaceted experience of immigration, including immigration policy debates, whereas Smith and Edmonston 1998 provides a fair, balanced assessment of the impact of immigration on American society. Since the theory of assimilation originated from the experience of European immigrants and their children in the previous wave, discussion of immigrant assimilation in the contemporary period is often implicitly comparative—see Foner 2000 for an excellent comparison. The concept of “assimilation,” as originally formulated in the Theory of Straight-Line Assimilation, came under serious attack in the 1960s, mostly due to its ethnocentric and normative formulation. Kivisto 2005 provides one of the most comprehensive selections of the key developments both in the classical and contemporary theoretical accounts of assimilation. The first decade of the 21st century witnessed serious attempts to revive this concept, by focusing on assimilation as a “process” through which ethnic groups become more similar to each other. Instead of “how much assimilation,” the literature has become more nuanced in thinking about “assimilation in which outcome, over which period of time, and into which reference population.” Specifically, Alba and Nee 2003 conceptualizes assimilation as a form of ethnic change, focusing on three key boundary processes—boundary crossing, boundary blurring, and boundary shifting. In other words, assimilation is simply the unintended consequences of individuals’ actions in pursuit of practical goals such as getting a good education, finding a good job, moving to a nice neighborhood, having interesting friends and colleagues, and developing relationships with others like them. They also argue that assimilation was indeed the master trend among descendents of European immigrants. Finally, Bean and Stevens 2003 provides a good overview of the key outcomes for a range of post-1965 ethnic groups and their overall incorporation.

  • Alba, Richard D., and Victor Nee. 2003. Remaking the American mainstream: Assimilation and contemporary immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    In this synthesis, Alba and Nee reconceptualize assimilation as a form of ethnic change, focusing on three boundary processes—boundary crossing, boundary blurring, and boundary shifting. They argue that assimilation is the unintended consequences of strategies and actions that immigrants and their children often adopt in pursuit of familiar goals.

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  • Bean, Frank D., and Gillian Stevens, eds. 2003. America’s newcomers and the dynamics of diversity. Rose Series in Sociology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    An accessible volume with individual chapters covering topics on language, identity, labor, intermarriage, and labor market outcomes among immigrants and their children. This is suitable for introductory courses on immigration.

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  • Foner, Nancy. 2000. From Ellis Island to JFK: New York’s two great waves of immigration. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    A good introduction to the main themes in immigration research. By comparing the previous immigration wave from Europe to the current wave from Asia, Latin America, and Africa, Foner highlights both the similarities and differences in the main themes. The historical and comparative approach in this book is unique.

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  • Hirschman, Charles, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind, eds. 1999. The handbook of international migration: The American experience. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A comprehensive collection of works by leading scholars on virtually all aspects of immigration and assimilation. This is ideal for graduate students and researchers who would like a quick introduction to the key debates in the field of immigration research.

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  • Kivisto, Peter, ed. 2005. Incorporating diversity: Rethinking assimilation in a multicultural age. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

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    This edited volume includes an excellent introduction to the main debates on assimilation. Part I includes key excerpts from classical texts. Part II includes recent efforts at theorizing assimilation in the post-1965 era. Part III includes new directions for future research on assimilation. Overall, this volume is a good resource both for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. 2006. Immigrant America: A portrait. 3d ed. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    This is one of the most accessible and widely used introductory texts on immigration. The third edition is thoroughly revised and updated with more-recent census data and is a valuable resource for an introductory course at the undergraduate level.

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  • Smith, James P., and Barry Edmonston, eds. 1998. The immigration debate: Studies on the economic, demographic, and fiscal effects of immigration. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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    This authoritative volume brings together an impressive range of scholars from across the social sciences and is unique in its interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary approach. It remains one of the most comprehensive assessments on the impact of immigration on American society.

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  • Waters, Mary C., Reed Ueda, and Helen B. Marrow, eds. 2007. The new Americans: A guide to immigration since 1965. Harvard University Press Reference Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    A comprehensive volume with two main components: thematic chapters and descriptive profiles for specific groups. The chapters cover a range of topics: ethnic and racial identity, intermarriage, transnationalism, intergroup relations, education, language, gender and families, ethnic media, etc. This book is a valuable resource both for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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Data Sources

The following data sources are the most widely used in studies of immigrant assimilation. The Decennial Censuses provide the most comprehensive coverage of the US population, including immigrants and their descendants. Specifically, the decennial censuses provide detailed data both on race and ethnicity, allowing researchers to study and trace interethnic and interracial differences on language proficiency and use, socioeconomic attainment, residential segregation, citizenship, and intermarriage. However, the US census dropped the parental birthplace question in 1980, making it impossible for researchers to isolate the immigrant second generation from individuals of third and later generations. The American Community Survey is a new initiative by the census to provide more up-to-date demographic, social, and economic information between the decennial censuses. That said, it likewise does not collect information on parental birthplaces. Initially designed to track unemployment rates, the Current Population Survey (CPS) provides data primarily on the labor force and related economic statistics, such as employment and earnings for a range of different ethnic and racial groups, including the immigrant population and their children. In light of the growing demographic presence of the post-1965 immigrant second generation, three major studies today have been conducted to track the progress of a wide range of ethnic groups. First, the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) focuses on Miami and San Diego and remains the only longitudinal study, as of 2012, with three waves of data on the second generation. Second, the Immigrant Second Generation in Metropolitan New York (ISGMNY) samples three native-born groups along with five second-generation groups, allowing for explicit comparisons of second-generation with native-born groups. Third, the Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA) adopts a survey questionnaire similar to ISGMNY, with a sample both of second-generation and later-generation individuals to explore the assimilatory trajectories across multiple generations. Data from CILS, ISGMNY, and IIMMLA are publicly available through the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). Finally, the Integration of the European Second Generation (TIES) is a major data source on the second generation in Europe, with a sample of more than ten thousand respondents in fifteen European cities. In light of the growing presence of immigrants and their children in Europe, TIES focuses on the descendents from Turkey, former Yugoslavia, and Morocco and is broadly comparative across the host countries in the study.

Journals

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field of immigration and assimilation, research in this subfield is routinely published in discipline-specific journals in sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, and history, along with many interdisciplinary journals. The two specialty journals below routinely publish research both with a US and an international focus. First, International Migration Review, published four times a year, is widely recognized as the leading immigration journal, featuring work on the incorporation of immigrants and their children in Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Africa. This journal has also become increasingly comparative during the early 21st century. As an example of the journal’s influence, many special issues in International Migration Review since the early 1990s not only set the agenda for immigration research but also shaped the debates on assimilation, transnationalism, and the future of the immigrant second generation. Second, Ethnic and Racial Studies, published twelve times a year, has produced a series of special issues that focus on innovative and important work on theorizing integration and assimilation and on the immigrant second generation in young adulthood, for example.

The Theory of Straight-Line Assimilation

The most central question in the field of immigrant assimilation is how immigrants and their children are incorporated into American society. Drawing on the experience of European immigrants and their descendents at the turn of the 20th century, Warner and Srole 1976 puts forth the theory of straight-line assimilation, defining assimilation as the process in which immigrants shed their “cultural traits” and adapted to the cultural way of life of American society. Progressive assimilation was linked to socioeconomic advancement among successive generations. Assimilation was the final stage of adjustment, achieved when children of immigrants manage to attain a socioeconomic level on par with the native Anglo-Saxon whites. In the first major synthesis, Gordon 1964 proposed a theoretical framework that includes seven dimensions of assimilation, which lent themselves to operationalizable hypotheses that can be tested empirically. This gave rise to a number of important studies on the assimilation experience of European immigrants and their children. Glazer and Moynihan 1970 remains a classic study of five major ethnic groups (i.e., African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish) in New York City, covering many key aspects of incorporation. Similarly, Lieberson 1980 and Lieberson and Waters 1988 provide comprehensive assessments of the overall trends in socioeconomic attainment, residential assimilation, political incorporation, and intermarriage for a variety of white ethnic groups. Another key theme in this research is the pattern of ethnic and racial identifications among white ethnics. Roediger 2006 provides a sweeping historical account of the construction of the “whiteness” category. As descendents of white European groups experienced upward social mobility in the aftermath of World War II, many managed to translate these gains into residential proximity with the native Anglo population at the time. This increase in social mobility, coupled with the decline in residential segregation and the rise of interethnic marriages among white ethnic groups, eventually led to the blurring of ethnic boundaries among whites. Alba 1990 makes a similar observation on the declining importance of ethnic differences in life chances among whites. Despite the continuing salience of ethnic identity among whites, Waters 1990 shows that patterns of ethnic identification are mostly symbolic and optional among whites of third and later generations, confirming the key predictions of the theory of straight-line assimilation about the declining importance of ethnic background across immigrant generations.

  • Alba, Richard D. 1990. Ethnic identity: The transformation of white America. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    This study examines the changing role of ethnicity in the lives of third- and later-generation Americans of European backgrounds. Using survey and census data, Alba argues that ethnic distinctions based on European ancestries were fading away as a result of socioeconomic assimilation, giving rise to the formation of “white ethnics.”

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  • Glazer, Nathan, and Daniel P. Moynihan. 1970. Beyond the melting pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City. 2d ed. Publication of the Joint Center for Urban Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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    One of the most influential books in the 1960s (originally published in 1963). Glazer and Moynihan focus on five major ethnic groups in New York City and devote a chapter in the book to each group. The second edition, reprinted as recently as 2005, includes a new, ninety-page introduction, “New York City in 1960.”

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  • Gordon, Milton M. 1964. Assimilation in American life: The role of race, religion, and national origins. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Building on Warner and Srole 1976 (originally published in 1945), Gordon conceptualized assimilation as a multidimensional concept. He specified seven stages or aspects of assimilation, including cultural, structural, marital, identificational, attitude-receptional (i.e., absence of prejudice), behavioral-receptional, and civic assimilation. Reprinted as recently as 1981.

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  • Lieberson, Stanley. 1980. A piece of the pie: Blacks and white immigrants since 1880. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Addresses the puzzle of why European immigrant groups in the United States fared well across generations, whereas African Americans continued to be left behind. Using a variety of data sources on these groups, Lieberson explores in detail the assimilation processes of white ethnics, including educational, occupational, and residential attainment. Reprinted as recently as 2006.

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  • Lieberson, Stanley, and Mary C. Waters. 1988. From many strands: Ethnic and racial groups in contemporary America. Population of the United States in the 1980s. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A comprehensive study of white ethnic groups, drawing on 1980 census data. This book includes empirical chapters on spatial patterns, cultural differences, economic attainment, and patterns of intermarriage. It remains an authoritative study of the assimilation of white ethnics.

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  • Roediger, David R. 2006. Working toward whiteness: How America’s immigrants became white; The strange journey from Ellis Island to the suburbs. New York: Basic Books.

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    A classic work that provides a unique historical perspective on the nexus of race, ethnicity, and immigration. The book shows that many “white” European ethnic groups today (e.g., Jews, Italians, and Polish) were once considered to be racially inferior and “unassimilable.”

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  • Warner, W. Lloyd, and Leo Srole. 1976. The social systems of American ethnic groups. Yankee City 3. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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    A seminal study of ethnic groups, originally published in 1945 (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press). Warner and Srole defined assimilation as the process in which immigrant groups shed their “cultural traits” and adapted to the cultural way of life of American society. Progressive assimilation was linked to socioeconomic advancement among successive immigrant generations.

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  • Waters, Mary C. 1990. Ethnic options: Choosing identities in America. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A landmark study of ethnicity among third- and fourth-generation white ethnics. Using census and qualitative interviews, Waters argues that ethnicity is largely symbolic and optional for her respondents and plays only small role in shaping their individual life chances. Reprinted as recently as 2009.

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The Theory of Segmented Assimilation and its Critiques

As the experience of European immigrants at the turn of the 20th century illustrates, assimilation is inherently a multigenerational process—immigrants rarely assimilate fully, whereas their American-born children tend to “grow up Americans.” Speculating about the post-1965 second generation, Gans 1992 puts forth the “second-generation decline” thesis, noting the potential for downward mobility among children of immigrants, many of whom would refuse to take on the low-paid and menial-labor work that many of their immigrant parents occupy. Building upon Gans 1992, Portes and Zhou 1993 and Portes and Rumbaut 2001 propose the theory of segmented assimilation. Specifically, these authors argue that the contemporary second generation will assimilate into different segments of American society, depending on their group-specific modes of incorporations. Focusing on the racial distinctiveness of post-1965 immigrant groups (the majority of whom are non-Hispanic whites) and the increasingly bifurcated American economy, these scholars outlined three assimilation trajectories—some groups would quickly assimilate into the American mainstream, others might cling to their coethnic community for social support and potential mobility, and yet others would experience downward assimilation into poverty and the American underclass. Since the end of the 20th century, critics of the segmented-assimilation model have pointed out its limitations. For example, Neckerman, et al. 1999 argues that the theory has overlooked “minority cultures of mobility,” which refers to a set of “cultural elements” that are associated with a minority group and which also provide strategies for managing economic mobility in the context of discrimination and group disadvantage. The works of other scholars—for example, Perlmann 2005, Waldinger 2007, and Waldinger and Feliciano 2004—argue that the theory might have exaggerated the differences between the experiences of European immigrants in the early 20th century and those of the nonwhite ethnic groups in the early 21st century. Specifically, these authors provide evidence that there might be more continuity and similarity across the two periods and that the structural obstacles toward mobility facing the children of European immigrants in the first half of the 20th century were significant and no less daunting. Finally, Waters, et al. 2010 examines the impact of acculturation types, a key mechanism underlying the theory of segmented assimilation (i.e., consonant, dissonant, and selective acculturation), on second-generation outcomes, finding that they have no significant effect on second-generation social mobility.

  • Gans, Herbert J. 1992. Second-generation decline: Scenarios for the economic and ethnic futures of the post-1965 American immigrants. Ethnic and Racial Studies 15.2: 173–192.

    DOI: 10.1080/01419870.1992.9993740Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A seminal article that speculates about the “decline” among the new second generation, especially those who are dark skinned and come from poor or working-class background. This article generates significant research, most notably the development of the theory of segmented assimilation, which also predicts “downward assimilation” for members of these groups. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Neckerman, Kathryn M., Prudence Carter, and Jennifer Lee. 1999. Segmented assimilation and minority cultures of mobility. Ethnic and Racial Studies 22.6: 945–965.

    DOI: 10.1080/014198799329198Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A critique of the theory of segmented assimilation. Neckerman, Carter, and Lee argue that segmented-assimilation theory has overlooked “minority cultures of mobility,” a set of cultural elements that are associated with a minority group and provide strategies for managing economic mobility in the context of discrimination and group disadvantage. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Perlmann, Joel. 2005. Italians then, Mexicans now: Immigrant origins and second-generation progress, 1890 to 2000. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Another critique of the theory of segmented assimilation. The book draws on census data to compare the progress of unskilled immigrants and their children. Focusing on labor market and education outcomes among previous European groups (then) and Mexicans (now), Perlmann shows that Mexicans are indeed assimilating across generations.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. 2001. Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A landmark study and highly influential book that outlines the theory of segmented assimilation. This book summarizes the main findings from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study and highlights the potential divergent destinies among the second generation, singling out Mexicans as being most at risk of “downward assimilation.”

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Min Zhou. 1993. The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 530.1: 74–96.

    DOI: 10.1177/0002716293530001006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A seminal paper that outlines the main elements of the theory of segmented assimilation. The concept of “segmented assimilation” was introduced herein, pointing to the potential divergent assimilating trajectories for different ethnic groups. The theory was fully elaborated in Portes and Rumbaut 2001. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Waldinger, Roger. 2007. Did manufacturing matter? The experience of yesterday’s second generation: A reassessment. International Migration Review 41.1: 3–39.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2007.00055.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Another critique of the theory of segmented assimilation. Drawing on data from the 1970 census, Waldinger reexamines the role of manufacturing in structuring the occupational mobility and socioeconomic integration of southern/eastern European immigrants and their descendants to challenge a central assumption in segmented assimilation theory. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Waldinger, Roger, and Cynthia Feliciano. 2004. Will the new second generation experience “downward assimilation”? Segmented assimilation re-assessed. Ethnic and Racial Studies 27.3: 376–402.

    DOI: 10.1080/01491987042000189196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Another critique of the theory of segmented assimilation. Using census data, this paper compares the labor market outcomes among Mexicans to Puerto Ricans, native whites, and blacks. Waldinger and Feliciano found no evidence for “downward assimilation” among Mexicans, challenging the theory’s prediction that Mexicans might assimilate into the “urban underclass.” Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Waters, Mary C., Van C. Tran, Philip Kasinitz, and John H. Mollenkopf. 2010. Segmented assimilation revisited: Types of acculturation and socioeconomic mobility in young adulthood. In Special Issue: Theorising Integration and Assimilation. Ethnic and Racial Studies 33.7: 1168–1193.

    DOI: 10.1080/01419871003624076Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Another critique of the theory of segmented assimilation. This article shows that “dissonant” acculturation is the exception, not the norm, among the second generation. Furthermore, type of acculturation has no significant effect on second-generation social mobility, challenging assumptions about protective effect of “selective acculturation” and negative effect of “dissonant acculturation.” Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Transnationalism

Another major strand of research has focused on “transnationalism” among immigrants and their children. Broadly defined, transnationalism refers to connections among people or institutions across two or more nation-states that involve civic, political, or religious memberships; economic activities; social networks; and cultural identities. Starting with the premise that increased globalization, effective technologies, and dual citizenships have made it easier than ever before for today’s migrants to maintain connections with their sending countries, research in this strand has included both theoretical developments and empirical validations. To start, Portes, et al. 1999 provides a clear conceptual definition, along with a discussion of challenges in the study of transnationalism, whereas Levitt and Jaworsky 2007 provides a recent overview of this growing body of work, focusing on five domains: economics, politics, religion, and cultural and social domains. On the empirical side, Levitt 2001 and Smith 2006 are excellent studies of transnationalism, with the former focusing on Dominicans in Boston and the latter focusing on Mexicans in New York City. One critique of transnationalism concerns the extent, novelty, and scope of these involvements. Theoretically, Waldinger and Fitzgerald 2004 (and related works by both authors) argues that the power of nation-states does matter in structuring these transnational connections. Empirically, these authors show that the proportion of immigrants that can be categorized as “transmigrants” is relatively small. Another theme in this strand of research is the relationship between transnationalism and assimilation. In other words, some scholars have asked if transnational involvements in the home country would supplant other forms of assimilation and involvement in the host country. Kivisto 2001 represents the first theoretical attempt to reconcile the two perspectives, effectively arguing that transnationalism can be conceived as a variant of assimilation. Building on Kivisto 2001, Morawska 2004 empirically examines the “simultaneity” of assimilatory and transnational practices for seven ethnic groups. Whereas most studies of transnationalism have focused on the first generation of immigrants, Levitt and Waters 2002 and, to some extent, Smith 2006 extend the inquiry on transnationalism to the second generation, by exploring whether these practices persist as well as the individual and institutional determinants of these involvements.

  • Kivisto, Peter. 2001. Theorizing transnational immigration: A critical review of current efforts. Ethnic and Racial Studies 24.4: 549–577.

    DOI: 10.1080/01419870120049789Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A serious attempt to recast the theoretical relationship between assimilation and transnationalism. This article traces the development of transnationalism as a concept in three stages: earlier articulations by cultural anthropologists, further refinements by sociologists, and more-recent additions by political scientists. The author argues that transnationalism is one variant of assimilation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Levitt, Peggy. 2001. The transnational villagers. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    An important study of transnationalism. Levitt explores the powerful familial, religious, and political connections that arise between Miraflores, a town in the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood in Boston, examining the ways in which these ties transform immigrant life both in the home and host countries.

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  • Levitt, Peggy, and B. Nadya Jaworsky. 2007. Transnational migration studies: Past developments and future trends. Annual Review of Sociology 33.1: 129–156.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131816Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This is a recent review of this growing literature and provides a good introduction. It outlines the major debates in the literature and focuses on five domains: economics, politics, and religion, as well as cultural and social domains. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Levitt, Peggy, and Mary C. Waters, eds. 2002. The changing face of home: The transnational lives of the second generation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    The first volume to extend the analysis of transnational involvements to the post-1965 second generation. It includes a series of empirical chapters that cover a wide range of ethnic/racial groups, along with chapters that adopt a historical and comparative approach.

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  • Morawska, Ewa. 2004. Exploring diversity in immigrant assimilation and transnationalism: Poles and Russian Jews in Philadelphia. International Migration Review 38.4: 1372–1412.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2004.tb00241.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Building on Kivisto 2001, this article is one of the first empirical attempts to explicitly theorize the simultaneity of assimilation and transnationalism. The author examines patterns of assimilation and transnationalism for seven ethnic groups: Poles, Russian Jews, Asian Indians, Cubans, Jamaicans, Chinese, and Dominicans. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, Luis E. Guarnizo, and Patricia Landolt. 1999. The study of transnationalism: Pitfalls and promise of an emergent research field. Ethnic and Racial Studies 22.2: 217–237.

    DOI: 10.1080/014198799329468Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article defines the concept of transnationalism, provides a typology of this heterogeneous set of activities, and reviews some of the pitfalls in establishing and validating the topic as a novel research field. It also provides a brief summary of the special issue on transnationalism in Ethnic and Racial Studies.

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  • Smith, Robert C. 2006. Mexican New York: Transnational lives of new immigrants. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A groundbreaking study that documents the transnational lives of Mexican immigrants and their children. Based on fifteen years of field research in New York and Puebla, Mexico, Smith shows how some immigrants live and function in two worlds at the same time and how transnationalism and assimilation are intimately connected phenomena.

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  • Waldinger, Roger D., and David Fitzgerald. 2004. Transnationalism in question. American Journal of Sociology 109.5: 1177–1195.

    DOI: 10.1086/381916Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A theoretical piece that critically engages with the transnational scholarship. Waldinger and Fitzgerald argue that nation-states also matter in structuring these transnational connections, by highlighting the role of nation-state policies/politics in shaping both emigration and immigration.

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The Second Generation in the United States

Decades into the new immigration, the size of the post-1965 immigrant second generation—children of immigrants who were born and raised in the United States—has grown substantially. Concern has been raised about the possibility of downward assimilation among the second generation, who grew up in proximity to native blacks in the inner city. Drawing on census data, Farley and Alba 2002 finds that most second-generation groups show higher levels of socioeconomic outcomes compared to native-born groups, though Asian and European ethnic groups seem to do better than Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Several case studies of the new second generation have focused on specific ethnic groups. For example, Zhou and Bankston 1998 and Waters 1999 provide rich description of how second-generation Vietnamese in New Orleans and West Indians in New York City negotiate their ethnic and racial identity, and the implications for social mobility. Summarizing the main findings from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), Portes and Rumbaut 2001 argues that the new second generation will follow divergent paths: some will follow the straight-line assimilation path, others will cling to their co-ethnic communities for social support in the face of discrimination, and yet others will experience downward assimilation into the urban “underclass.” See also Rumbaut and Portes 2001 for further details on CILS. One key critique of Portes and Rumbaut 2001 is the lack of native-born comparison groups, making the evaluation of progress difficult. Summarizing findings from the Immigrant Second Generation in Metropolitan New York (ISGMNY) survey, Kasinitz, et al. 2008 shows that second-generation groups fare well on socioeconomic measures, compared both to their immigrant parents and to native-born groups of the same race. See Kasinitz, et al. 2004 for case studies on the second generation in schools, in the workplace, and in churches, etc., along with further critiques of the theory of segmented assimilation. However, the ISGMNY did not sample the Mexican second generation because of their relatively low presence in the New York area, and, as such, it cannot speak to the experience of Mexican Americans. Drawing on longitudinal data, Telles and Ortiz 2008 focuses on Mexican Americans and provides an important perspective on this debate, by showing progress between the first and the second generation, followed by stagnation and decline in the third and fourth generations. In summary, this is a dynamic field of research, and the contentious debate on the incorporation of the future of the second generation is ongoing.

  • Farley, Reynolds, and Richard Alba. 2002. The new second generation in the United States. International Migration Review 36.3: 669–701.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2002.tb00100.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drawing on census data, this article provides basic descriptive socioeconomic profiles of the second generation for a wide range of ethnic groups. Key results point to the relative success among second-generation groups compared to the native-born whites and blacks, though Asian groups exhibit better outcomes than Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Kasinitz, Philip, John H. Mollenkopf, and Mary C. Waters, eds. 2004. Becoming New Yorkers: Ethnographies of the new second generation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A companion volume to Kasinitz, et al. 2008, this book includes chapters on education, work, identity, and participation on the basis of ethnographic projects on the second generation in different institutional domains in New York City.

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  • Kasinitz, Philip, John H. Mollenkopf, Mary C. Waters, and Jennifer Holdaway. 2008. Inheriting the city: The children of immigrants come of age. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A landmark study of the second generation in young adulthood. The book summarizes findings from the ISGMNY study and finds no evidence of “second-generation decline.” The second generation is upwardly mobile in comparison to the first generation and to the native-born reference group of the same race.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. 2001. Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    The empirical basis for theory of segmented assimilation. Portes and Rumbaut point to different “modes of incorporation”—immigrants’ characteristics, host society’s reception, and family structures. They posit a typology of acculturation—dissonant, consonant, and selective acculturation, underscoring intergenerational relations as the key mechanism that “sort” individuals into divergent trajectories.

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  • Rumbaut, Rubén G., and Alejandro Portes, eds. 2001. Ethnicities: Children of immigrants in America. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A companion volume to Portes and Rumbaut 2001. This volume provides group-specific profiles and analyses on Mexicans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Haitians, and West Indians in Miami and San Diego.

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  • Telles, Edward E., and Vilma Ortiz. 2008. Generations of exclusion: Mexican Americans, assimilation, and race. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    An important study of second- and later-generation Mexican Americans. Using longitudinal data, the book covers a range of topics—from language and identity to socioeconomic and residential assimilation. The study finds significant progress from the first to second generation, but eventual declines for the third and fourth generations.

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  • Waters, Mary C. 1999. Black identities: West Indian immigrant dreams and American realities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    An authoritative and comprehensive study of West Indian immigrants and their children in New York City. The book covers a range of topics: ethnic and racial identity, work, American race relations, intergenerational dynamics, neighborhoods, and schools. The writing is highly accessible and is ideal both for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Zhou, Min, and Carl L. Bankston III. 1998. Growing up American: How Vietnamese children adapt to life in the United States. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A key study of Vietnamese immigrants and their children in New Orleans. The book is based on a mix of qualitative and survey data, suitable both for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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The Second Generation in Europe

Across the Atlantic, European societies have also received a significant influx of immigrants, and the European second generation is now coming of age. While the majority of research on immigrant assimilation has focused on the United States, more-recent work has adopted a more comparative approach. The integration of immigrants and their children in Europe is the focus of a significant body of research, and a comprehensive review of this literature is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, this section includes only selected scholarship in this tradition, which is either explicitly or implicitly comparative with the US scholarship. On the theoretical side, Alba 2005 and Brubaker 2001 represent two serious attempts to reconceptualize the idea of assimilation and to ask how it might work in other national contexts. In an earlier statement, Zolberg and Woon 1999 outlines the ways in which differences in religion and language operate to shape the social construction of cultural boundaries between immigrants and natives in the United States and Europe. On the empirical side, Crul and Vermeulen 2003 presents a summary of empirical analyses on the integration of the Turkish second generation in Europe. In the same vein, Heath, et al. 2007 and Heath, et al. 2008 provide summaries of the literature on the ethnic penalty and socioeconomic outcomes both within Europe and in comparison with the United States and other affluent societies. In an edited volume that brings together US and European scholars, Alba and Waters 2011 focuses on schools as the key institution that shapes the experiences of the new second generation, from a range of ethnic and racial backgrounds in different national contexts. Finally, Foner 2005 compares the experience of West Indians in New York and London, highlighting similarities and differences both across cities and across historical time periods.

  • Alba, Richard D. 2005. Bright vs. blurred boundaries: Second-generation assimilation and exclusion in France, Germany, and the United States. Ethnic and Racial Studies 28.1: 20–49.

    DOI: 10.1080/0141987042000280003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Outlines boundary process as central to understanding differences in the experiences of the second generation in the United States versus Europe. This article distinguishes between “bright” boundaries, which involve no ambiguity about membership, and “blurred” ones, as they are applied to the domains of citizenship, religion, language, and race. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Alba, Richard D., and Mary C. Waters, eds. 2011. The next generation: Immigrant youth in a comparative perspective. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    Compares the second generation in the United States and western Europe. The volume brings together leading scholars familiar with key debates from both sides of the Atlantic, with a strong focus on education and labor market outcomes. This provides a comprehensive introduction to the topic, both for graduate and undergraduate courses.

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  • Brubaker, Rogers. 2001. The return of assimilation? Changing perspectives on immigration and its sequels in France, Germany, and the United States. Ethnic and Racial Studies 24.4: 531–548.

    DOI: 10.1080/01419870120049770Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article, Brubaker suggests a shift from “organic” understandings of assimilation, which focus on the end result of assimilation, to “abstract” understandings of assimilation, which focus on the social process of how groups become more “similar” over time. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Crul, Maurice, and Hans Vermeulen. 2003. The second generation in Europe. In Special Issue: The Future of the Second Generation: The Integration of Migrant Youth in Six European Countries. International Migration Review 37.4: 965–986.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2003.tb00166.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A good overview of the emerging Turkish second generation in Europe. It also serves as the introduction to the special issue, which includes a series of papers relevant to this topic. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Foner, Nancy. 2005. In a new land: A comparative view of immigration. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    An accessible book that highlights the West Indian immigrant experience in New York and London. Ideal for undergraduate and graduate courses that take both a comparative and historical approach—both across time and space—to issues of immigrant incorporation.

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  • Heath, Anthony F., Sin Yi Cheung, and Shawna N. Smith, eds. 2007. Unequal chances: Ethnic minorities in Western labour markets. Proceedings of the British Academy 137. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263860.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This authoritative volume explores, through a comparative framework, the ethnic minority disadvantage in labor market outcomes, focusing on the second generation in North America, western Europe, Australia, and Israel. The authors find a clear ethnic penalty among most groups of non-European ancestry, though there is a clear variation across countries.

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  • Heath, Anthony F., Catherine Rothon, and Elina Kilpi. 2008. The second generation in western Europe: Education, unemployment, and occupational attainment. Annual Review of Sociology 34.1: 211–235.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134728Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive review of research on education and labor market outcomes among the second generation in ten countries in western Europe. The article also reviews explanations for ethnic inequalities in socioeconomic attainments both within and between countries. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Zolberg, Aristide R., and Long Litt Woon. 1999. Why Islam is like Spanish: Cultural incorporation in Europe and the United States. Politics & Society 27.1: 5–38.

    DOI: 10.1177/0032329299027001002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This influential article explores the construction of cultural boundaries between immigrants and natives. The authors argue that religious boundaries in Europe (e.g., Christians vs. Muslims) are analogous to linguistic boundaries in the United States (e.g., Spanish vs. English). This, in turns, shapes the processes of immigrant inclusion versus exclusion. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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Key Dimensions and Outcomes

Following Gordon 1964 (cited under the Theory of Straight-Line Assimilation), the literature on immigrant incorporation and assimilation research has explored different dimensions of assimilation, including socioeconomic and spatial attainment, ethnic and racial identity, language and culture, civic and political participation, religion, gender, and family dynamics and intermarriage. Massey 1981 provides an overview of the earlier literature, whereas Waters and Jiménez 2005 provides an overview of more-recent trends and developments. More recently, White and Glick 2009 provides a broad assessment of immigrant assimilation in schools, in the workplace, and in the neighborhoods, whereas Morawska 2009 outlines the overall trends for these different dimensions of assimilation. Each of the subsections below focuses on these topics in more detail.

  • Massey, Douglas S. 1981. Dimensions of the new immigration to the United States and the prospects for assimilation. Annual Review of Sociology 7:57–85.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.07.080181.000421Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This comprehensive review covers the earlier scholarship on post-1965 immigrant assimilation. See Waters and Jiménez 2005 for a more recent update. Available online by subscription.

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  • Morawska, Ewa T. 2009. A sociology of immigration: (Re)making multifaceted America. New York and Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230240872Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive volume on the experience of immigrants and their children in the United States. Individual chapters focus on different dimensions of incorporation, including patterns of residential settlement, economic incorporation, civic and political incorporation, and transnational involvements. This text is ideal for an undergraduate introductory course.

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  • Waters, Mary C., and Tomás R. Jiménez. 2005. Assessing immigrant assimilation: New empirical and theoretical challenges. Annual Review of Sociology 31:105–125.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.100026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This review provides an update on Massey 1981 and summarizes the literature since then. It also highlights the growth of new immigrant destinations and the importance of immigrant replenishment, as well as its impacts on assimilation. Available online by subscription.

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  • White, Michael J., and Jennifer E. Glick. 2009. Achieving anew: How new immigrants do in American schools, jobs, and neighborhoods. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A recent study that provides a broad assessment of immigrant assimilation in schools, in the workplace, and in the neighborhoods, across generations. Using census data, longitudinal education surveys, and other data, this book provides a good overview of the key debates as well as empirical trends on these issues.

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School and Educational Attainment

A substantial amount of research on the second generation explores their educational experience and social mobility. Whereas the first-generation immigrant’s first encounter with American society tends to occur in the labor market, the second-generation immigrant’s first exposure to American society happens within the school setting. This strand of research can be further divided into the following five themes. First, Portes, et al. 2005 focuses on socioeconomic attainment among the second generation in young adulthood, a topic that is central to the contentious debate on downward assimilation. Specifically, the article summarizes the main findings from the third wave of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey (CILS) and points to divergent outcomes across ethnic groups. In the same vein, Haller, et al. 2011 presents further evidence on downward assimilation from CILS-III, lending support for the theory of segmented assimilation. In reply, Alba, et al. 2011 provides a balanced and measured assessment of the debate on second-generation downward mobility. The authors argue that the different theories of assimilation should be seen as complementary rather than antagonistic, and they suggest that the empirical evidence from the major surveys of the second generation do not show widespread patterns of downward assimilation. Second, Kao and Thompson 2003 summarizes the literature on educational aspirations, performance, and outcomes in schools. Third, other key studies, such as Smith 2003, have investigated trends in socioeconomic assimilation across generations. Fourth, López 2003 and Louie 2004 examine the role of race, class, gender, and educational institutions in shaping second-generation mobility among Dominicans and Chinese in New York City. Finally, Feliciano 2008 explores the impact of educational selectivity among the first generation on educational outcomes among the second generation, highlighting the importance of taking premigration status into account in the assessment of intergenerational mobility.

  • Alba, Richard, Philip Kasinitz, and Mary C. Waters. 2011. The kids are (mostly) alright: Second-generation assimilation. Social Forces 89.3: 763–773.

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    A balanced summary of the current theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues on the assimilation of post-1965 second generation. This article addresses the contentious debate between proponents of the theory of segmented assimilation and its critics. This is a response to Haller, et al. 2011. Available online by subscription.

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  • Feliciano, Cynthia. 2008. Unequal origins: Immigrant selection and the education of the second generation. New Americans. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

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    A study that focuses on the effect of the country of origin on integration in the United States and how immigrant selectivity shapes the social mobility of the second generation.

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  • Haller, William J., Alejandro Portes, and Scott M. Lynch. 2011. Dreams fulfilled, dreams shattered: Determinants of segmented assimilation in the second generation. Social Forces 89.3: 733–762.

    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2011.0003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent paper that examines second-generation mobility, drawing on data from the CILS. The paper shows evidence of “segmented assimilation” by race and class line across different groups. See also Alba, et al. 2011 for a balanced response and assessment of this debate. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Kao, Grace, and Jennifer S. Thompson. 2003. Racial and ethnic stratification in educational achievement and attainment. Annual Review of Sociology 29:417–442.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.100019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A good introduction to the vast literature on racial, ethnic, and immigrant differences in educational outcomes. Specifically, it covers group differences in grades, test scores, course taking, tracking, completion of high school, transitions to college, and college completion. Available online by subscription.

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  • López, Nancy. 2003. Hopeful girls, troubled boys: Race and gender disparity in urban education. New York: Routledge.

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    An ethnographic study of Dominicans in New York City that highlights the role of gender in shaping mobility. The book focuses on the role of schools in shaping students’ performance, and it documents divergent patterns of achievements among boys and girls.

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  • Louie, Vivian S. 2004. Compelled to excel: Immigration, education, and opportunity among Chinese Americans. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    Examines the lives and educational outcomes among second-generation Chinese students at Hunter College and Columbia University. This book highlights how social class shapes the choices youths make, in terms of what major to pursue and the impact of this decision on social mobility.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, Patricia Fernández-Kelly, and William Haller. 2005. Segmented assimilation on the ground: The new second generation in early adulthood. Ethnic and Racial Studies 28.6: 1000–1040.

    DOI: 10.1080/01419870500224117Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article summarizes the prospects for social mobility among the second generation, using data from the third wave of the CILS. In so doing, it provides a more up-to-date snapshot of the study’s respondents as they enter young adulthood. See also Haller, et al. 2011. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Smith, James P. 2003. Assimilation across the Latino generations. In Special Issue: Papers and Proceedings of the One Hundred Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association, Washington, DC, January 3–5, 2003. American Economic Review 93.2: 315–319.

    DOI: 10.1257/000282803321947263Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important paper that shows a clear trajectory of socioeconomic assimilation across generations among Latinos. This speaks directly to concerns about potential downward assimilation among these groups. Available online by subscription.

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Work and Occupational Attainment

As immigrants arrive in the United States, finding work is often the first step toward incorporation. Therefore, it is not coincidental that a substantial amount of research explores immigrants’ experience in the primary and secondary labor markets. Research on economic incorporation of immigrants has contributed to the development and refinement of many important sociological theories and concepts: the enclave economy, the ethnic niche, the ethnic networks, the hiring queue, and so on. One key theme in this literature is the role of ethnic social networks in facilitating first-generation immigrants’ search for employment and its impact on the employment prospects of African Americans. Most of these studies have focused on New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, among other major immigrant gateway cities. Specifically, Waldinger 1996 traces the development of ethnic employment niches, whereas Waters 1999 documents employers’ preference for immigrant blacks over African Americans in New York City. In the same vein, Waldinger and Lichter 2003 explores employers’ reliance on ethnic social networks for hiring in six different low-wage industries in Los Angeles. This literature also includes several case studies of specific immigrant groups and specific industries. For example, Zhou 1992 is one of the most comprehensive studies of the Chinese ethnic economy in New York City. Similarly, Menjívar 2000 vividly details how social networks facilitate the integration of Salvadoran immigrants in San Francisco, by providing them with access to resources on employment and housing. In the author’s study of the garment industry in New York, Chin 2005 highlights the importance of ethnic entrepreneurship among some immigrant groups, focusing on how coethnic ties shape the relationships between Asian employers and Chinese and Latino garment workers. Finally, Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001 provides a penetrating glimpse into the lives of Mexican and Central American domestic workers in Los Angeles, while highlighting the fundamental tensions that shape their work and interactions with their affluent and white employers.

  • Chin, Margaret M. 2005. Sewing women: Immigrants and the New York City garment industry. Columbia Comparative Studies on Ethnicity and Race. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    A qualitative study that examines the garment industry in New York City. Using in-depth interviews, the book sheds light on how Chinese and Latino garment workers find work, how coethnic ties shapes the relationships between employers and workers in Korean-owned versus Chinese-owned shops, and how gender relations structure the workplace.

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  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. 2001. Doméstica: Immigrant workers cleaning and caring in the shadows of affluence. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    In this study, Hondagneu-Sotelo examines the experience of female Mexican and Central American domestic workers in Los Angeles. Through in-depth interviews, she highlights the fundamental tension and contradictions that shape their work, their interactions with their employers, and how they make sense of the inequity that shapes their lives.

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  • Menjívar, Cecilia. 2000. Fragmented ties: Salvadoran immigrant networks in America. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A study of Salvadoran immigrants in San Francisco. This book vividly details how social networks facilitate the integration of immigrants, by providing useful resources. And yet, in the context of poverty and disadvantage, social networks can have a negative impact on their lives.

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  • Waldinger, Roger David. 1996. Still the promised city? African-Americans and new immigrants in postindustrial New York. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Examines why unskilled immigrants fared better than native blacks in securing jobs in the low-wage sector. The book explores the development of ethnic niches in the labor market and their tendency to hire exclusively coethnic workers, and as a result, exclude native blacks from many of the city’s service-sector jobs.

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  • Waldinger, Roger David, and Michael Ira Lichter. 2003. How the other half works: Immigration and the social organization of labor. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Another key study of immigration and work. This book focuses on employers of six different low-wage industries in Los Angeles and remains an authoritative study of immigrant social networks, employment, and hiring in America’s postindustrial economy.

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  • Waters, Mary C. 1999. Black identities: West Indian immigrant dreams and American realities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This classic study of West Indians in New York includes several excellent chapters on the experience of West Indians in the food service industry and their relations with native blacks and whites, as well as the mechanisms that underlie employers’ preference for immigrant blacks over native blacks.

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  • Zhou, Min. 1992. Chinatown: The socioeconomic potential of an urban enclave. Conflicts in Urban and Regional Development. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    A key study of Chinatown and its ethnic economy in New York City. Drawing on census, administrative, and ethnographic data, this book provides a comprehensive overview of how the ethnic economy shapes the immigrant experience and facilitates social mobility.

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Neighborhood and Residential Attainment

Research on immigrant spatial assimilation has explored how integrated or segregated immigrant groups are from native whites and how patterns of spatial incorporation might vary across immigrant generations. The classic theory of spatial assimilation posits that socioeconomic mobility translates into residential mobility over time and leads to greater proximity to native whites. This leads to structural integration with the majority group, by facilitating informal friendships and social ties with native whites, along with formal membership in mainstream institution. Contemporary versions of this theory have taken into account the distinctive racial composition of the post-1965 immigrant groups. For example, Alba, et al. 1999 explores patterns of residential concentration and suburbanization of immigrant groups and their proximity relative to whites. In the author’s analysis of Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA) data, Brown 2007 finds evidence of “delayed” spatial assimilation among Mexicans, suggesting that they might take additional generations to become fully integrated with whites. Similarly, Iceland and Nelson 2008 documents multiple forms of spatial assimilation occurring simultaneously for Hispanic groups. Specifically, native-born Hispanics are less segregated from Anglos than foreign-born Hispanics, while black Hispanics are more segregated from Anglos than white Hispanics of the same nativity status. This suggests that both race and nativity operate in shaping the segregation patterns and residential attainment among Hispanics. More recently, Kim and White 2010 posits the theory of “racialized” spatial assimilation and explicitly takes race into consideration in the authors’ analysis of the 2000 census data on fifty-six ethnic groups. Another key theme in this strand of research is how the presence of immigrants and their offspring has transformed local neighborhoods. Iceland 2009 draws on census data to explore how immigration and diversity have reshaped neighborhood dynamics, focusing both on the emergence of multiethnic neighborhoods and the persistence of racial segregation. In an analysis of ethnic concentration for fifteen ethnic groups in New York and Los Angeles, Logan, et al. 2002 documents the emergence of immigrant enclaves and explores how both choice and constraint shape individuals’ decision to reside in heavily ethnic neighborhoods. Finally, Jargowsky 2009 examines the relationship between immigration and neighborhood-concentrated poverty, pointing to immigrants’ role in the revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods.

  • Alba, Richard D., John R. Logan, Brian J. Stults, Gilbert Marzan, and Wenquan Zhang. 1999. Immigrant groups in the suburbs: A reexamination of suburbanization and spatial assimilation. American Sociological Review 64.3: 446–460.

    DOI: 10.2307/2657495Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A paper about the suburbanization process of immigrant/minority groups and their proximity/distance relative to whites. It also discusses the implications of these trends for the theory of spatial assimilation. Available online by subscription.

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  • Brown, Susan K. 2007. Delayed spatial assimilation: Multigenerational incorporation of the Mexican-origin population in Los Angeles. City & Community 6.3: 193–209.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6040.2007.00213.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using unique data from IIMMLA, this paper is one of the first that examines patterns of spatial assimilation across generations for Mexicans. Instead of traditional spatial assimilation, Brown finds evidence of “delayed” spatial assimilation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Iceland, John. 2009. Where we live now: Immigration and race in the United States. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A recent book on how immigration has transformed American neighborhoods. The chapters explore how immigration and diversity have reshaped neighborhood dynamics, focusing both on the emergence of multiethnic neighborhoods and the persistence of racial segregation.

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  • Iceland, John, and Kyle A. Nelson. 2008. Hispanic segregation in metropolitan America: Exploring the multiple forms of spatial assimilation. American Sociological Review 73.5: 741–765.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300503Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Documented multiple forms of spatial assimilation occurring simultaneously for Hispanic groups. Specifically, native-born Hispanics are less segregated from Anglos than foreign-born Hispanics, while black Hispanics are more segregated from Anglos than white Hispanics of the same nativity status. This would suggest that both race and nativity matter for residential attainment. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Jargowsky, Paul A. 2009. Immigrants and neighbourhoods of concentrated poverty: Assimilation or stagnation? In Special Issue: Local Contexts and the Prospects for the US Second Generation. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35.7: 1129–1151.

    DOI: 10.1080/13691830903006150Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper explores the relationship between immigration and the decline in concentrated poverty in American neighborhoods across the country. It provides descriptive trends and overall patterns of the changes occurring in the 1990s. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Kim, Ann H., and Michael J. White. 2010. Panethnicity, ethnic diversity, and residential segregation. American Journal of Sociology 115.5: 1558–1596.

    DOI: 10.1086/651375Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drawing on census data, this paper shows that both race and ethnicity continue to matter in shaping residential patterns. On the one hand, the paper documents a “pan-ethnic effect” with greater residential proximity within pan-ethnic boundaries than between. On the other hand, ethnic differences persist, especially among Asian subgroups. Available online by subscription.

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  • Logan, John R., Richard D. Alba, and Wenquan Zhang. 2002. Immigrant enclaves and ethnic communities in New York and Los Angeles. American Sociological Review 67.2: 299–322.

    DOI: 10.2307/3088897Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A key analysis of ethnic concentration for fifteen ethnic groups in New York and Los Angeles. Drawing on census data, the paper explores the relationship between choice and constraint in ethnic groups’ decision to reside in heavily ethnic neighborhoods. Available online by subscription.

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  • Logan, John R., and Charles Zhang. 2010. Global neighborhoods: New pathways to diversity and separation. American Journal of Sociology 115.4: 1069–1109.

    DOI: 10.1086/649498Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent paper on changes in neighborhood racial composition between 1980 and 2000. The paper identifies emerging “global neighborhoods”—stably integrated settings where Hispanics and Asians are the pioneer integrators of previously all-white zones, later followed by blacks. Available online by subscription.

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Ethnic and Racial Identity

Research on ethnic identity suggests that it is a complicated matter for the new second generation. More importantly, how they identify (ethnically, racially, or both) has implications for the constant shifting and blurring of racial and ethnic boundaries. Whereas ethnic identification has been found to be mostly optional and symbolic among later-generation European Americans, nonwhite ethnic groups do not have the same set of options and often find themselves negotiating a “racialized” ethnic identity. The majority of this body of work rely either on qualitative case studies on specific ethnic groups or quantitative analyses of census or survey data of the ethnic and racial categorization. The key strands of this research focus on the following themes. One strand of research highlights the complexity and fluidity of identity choices. For example, Waters 1999 examines identity choices among second-generation West Indians in New York City, whereas Kibria 2002 explores the experience of second-generation Chinese and Koreans in Boston and Los Angeles. A second strand of research has documented the emergence of the multiracial population and its implications for assimilation. Specifically, Perlmann and Waters 2002 brings together a series of papers that explore the experience of the multiracial population, drawing on data collected after the introduction of the new “race” question in the 2000 census. Similarly, Lee and Bean 2004 reviews this literature and asks how the presence of the multiracial population might reshape the American binary racial structure in the coming decades. A third strand of research focuses on the racialization process and how that shapes identity choices for nonwhite ethnic groups. For example, Tuan 1998 shows that even middle-class Chinese and Japanese Americans who have been in the United States for many generations continue to be constrained by their racialized identity and are perceived as foreign. In the author’s seminal study of Mexican American identity, Jiménez 2010 documents how immigration replenishment shapes the identities among respondents of third or higher generations. In contrast to the “ethnic options” exercised by white ethnics, Mexican American identity is shaped by the replenishment of raw ethnic materials from the ongoing immigration from Mexico. Whereas Jiménez 2010 examines how ethnic identity varies within the later-generation Mexicans, Vasquez 2011 traces out the choices of ethnic identity across generations and emphasizes the racialization process among Mexicans. Finally, Roth 2012 traces the process through which racial categories are transmitted across the transnational fields among migrants and nonmigrants of Puerto Rican and Dominican descents.

  • Jiménez, Tomás R. 2010. Replenished ethnicity: Mexican Americans, immigration, and identity. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A study of ethnic identity among Mexican Americans in Garden City (Kansas) and Santa Maria (California). Jiménez argues that Mexican Americans—neither an aggrieved minority group nor an assimilating ethnic group—constitute a permanent immigrant group whose experience is shaped by the constant “immigrant replenishment” from Mexico.

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  • Kibria, Nazli. 2002. Becoming Asian American: Second-generation Chinese and Korean American identities. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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    A study of second-generation identity among Chinese and Korean Americans in Boston and Los Angeles. The book includes detailed discussion of how this identity shapes respondents’ experiences from childhood to young adulthood, including upbringing, interaction with non-Asian Americans, college, work, intermarriage, and child rearing.

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  • Lee, Jennifer, and Frank D. Bean. 2004. America’s changing color lines: Immigration, race/ethnicity, and multiracial identification. Annual Review of Sociology 30:221–242.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110519Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A good review of the literature on how immigration transforms the black-white racial structure and its implications for the future of American society. The article also includes basic descriptive statistics on the multiracial population. Available online by subscription.

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  • Perlmann, Joel, and Mary C. Waters, eds. 2002. The new race question: How the census counts multiracial individuals. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Explores the introduction of the new “race” question in the 2000 census, which identifies the multiracial population. The book includes individual chapters on racial categorization, its implications for a multiracial future, and the politics of racial counting. This is good resource for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.

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  • Roth, Wendy D. 2012. Race migrations: Latinos and the cultural transformation of race. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    An innovative study of racial identification patterns among Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in New York City, San Juan, and Santo Domingo. Roth traces the process through which racial categories are transmitted across the transnational fields between the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

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  • Tuan, Mia. 1998. Forever foreigners or honorary whites? The Asian ethnic experience today. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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    A study of middle-class, later-generation Chinese and Japanese Americans in California. The book explores how Asian Americans negotiate their “racialized” ethnic identity and its implications for the future of American society. Despite their middle-class status, many feel that they continue to be perceived as “forever foreigners.”

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  • Vasquez, Jessica M. 2011. Mexican Americans across generations: Immigrant families, racial realties. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    A multigenerational study of ethnic identity among middle-class Mexican Americans in California. This book focuses on the family as a key site for racial and gender identity formation, knowledge transmission, and incorporation processes. Vasquez distinguishes between families with “thinned attachment” and those with “cultural maintenance.”

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  • Waters, Mary C. 1999. Black identities: West Indian immigrant dreams and American realities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    One key question that the book explores is whether ethnic identity is optional for black immigrants and their descendents, building on the author’s previous research on white ethnic identities, which tend to be optional and symbolic by the third generation. Chapter 8 explores the three pathways in identity development and its consequences for work- and education-related outcomes.

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Language and Culture

A key aspect of cultural incorporation is learning the language from the host society. Research on this topic has documented a universal shift from the mother tongue to English among the second generation, lending support for the US reputation as the “graveyard” for all foreign languages. Specifically, Portes and Rumbaut 2001 includes chapters on overall trends in shifts from the mother tongue to English, as well as maintenance of the mother tongue. Drawing on census data and regional surveys, both Alba, et al. 2002 and Rumbaut, et al. 2006 document shifts from the mother tongue to English across immigrant generations, with Spanish being more widespread than Asian languages into the third generation. A new strand of work has focused attention on the retention of Spanish. For example, Lutz 2006 explores the role of the family and the co-ethnic community in shaping Spanish proficiency among the second generation. In light of the increasing Latino presence in the United States, Linton 2004 posits the “critical mass model of bilingualism,” suggesting that Latinos face a different language context where bilingualism is viable. Building on Linton 2004, Tran 2010 provides the first longitudinal analysis of English acquisition and Spanish retention over a decade among second-generation Latinos. Instead of assuming that these are zero-sum processes, Tran 2010 shows that both English and Spanish proficiency increased over time and that the use of Spanish has no effect on English acquisition but significantly promotes Spanish retention, lending suggestive support for the emergence of a new context of bilingualism. Another area of research explores the process of acculturation and its relationship to assimilation across generations. For example, Gibson 1988 remains a classic study of Sikh immigrant youths in California, highlighting the challenges that they face as they negotiate their cultural and religious identities. More recently, Warikoo 2011 provides one of the first comparative studies of immigrant youth culture in London and in New York City.

  • Alba, Richard, John Logan, Amy Lutz, and Brian Stults. 2002. Only English by the third generation? Loss and preservation of the mother tongue among the grandchildren of contemporary immigrants. Demography 39.3: 467–484.

    DOI: 10.1353/dem.2002.0023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Drawing on census data, this paper applies the three-generation language assimilation model to post-1965 immigrant groups. It finds that shifts to English-only occurred for Asian groups by the third generation, whereas Latinos are more likely to maintain Spanish. Available online.

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  • Gibson, Margaret A. 1988. Accommodation without assimilation: Sikh immigrants in an American high school. Anthropology of Contemporary Issues. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    A study of Sikh immigrants, who originated in the Punjab area of northwestern India. Drawing on two years of field research, this book provides a penetrating look into their cultural adjustments to American society, along with the challenges that they face as they negotiate their cultural and religious identities. Reprinted as recently as 1994.

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  • Linton, April. 2004. A critical mass model of bilingualism among U.S.-born Hispanics. Social Forces 83.1: 279–314.

    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2004.0119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the contextual and individual determinants of Spanish maintenance. The paper argues that the presence of Latinos has made it more appealing for Latinos to maintain their Spanish ability, given incentives associated with bilingualism. Available online.

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  • Lutz, Amy. 2006. Spanish maintenance among English-speaking Latino youth: The role of individual and social characteristics. Social Forces 84.3: 1417–1433.

    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A paper exploring the pattern of Spanish maintenance among Latinos. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Portes, Alejandro, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. 2001. Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Drawing on the first two waves of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study, chapter 6 explores patterns of English acquisition and bilingualism among the second generation, whereas chapter 7 focuses on their cultural identities and how they shift over time.

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  • Rumbaut, Rubén G., Douglas S. Massey, and Frank D. Bean. 2006. Linguistic life expectancies: Immigrant language retention in Southern California. Population and Development Review 32.3: 447–460.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2006.00132.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores linguistic survival across immigrant generations and speaks to concerns about the potential divisive effect of Spanish. The article focuses on preference for mother tongue and on the ability to speak it well as key measures of survival. It finds that Spanish survives longer than other languages, but rarely beyond the third generation. Available online.

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  • Tran, Van C. 2010. English gain vs. Spanish loss? Language assimilation among second-generation Latinos in young adulthood. Social Forces 89.1: 257–284.

    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2010.0107Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores language assimilation among second-generation Latinos over a decade. Using longitudinal data, this article argues that English acquisition and Spanish retention are not mutually exclusive. Both English and Spanish proficiency increased over time for Latinos, and the use of Spanish has no effect on English acquisition but significantly promotes Spanish retention. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Warikoo, Natasha Kumar. 2011. Balancing acts: Youth culture in the global city. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520262102.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examining the potential negative impact of black youth culture on second-generation achievement, this comparative study draws on survey and interview data in two racially diverse, low-achieving high schools in London and New York. This book explores the connections among oppositional styles, tastes in music, and school behaviors.

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Citizenship, Legal Status, and Participation

As immigrants settle into their new life, many naturalize and participate in American civic and political life. Not surprisingly, citizenship and legal status matter both for participation in American life and for individuals’ life chances. For an overview to this literature, see Bloemraad, et al. 2008, which focuses both on the US and the European literatures. Overall, this broad literature has focused on the following key themes: citizenship acquisition, political participation, bureaucratic incorporation, and the consequences of undocumented status. On citizenship differences, Bloemraad 2006 examines cross-national variations in naturalization rates among Portuguese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees in Toronto and Boston. For a broader overview of the citizenship literature, see Kivisto and Faist 2007. On political participation, Gerstle and Mollenkopf 2001 provides an accessible introduction to this interdisciplinary literature by historians, political scientists, and sociologists, from a historical-comparative perspective with a focus on the United States. More recently, Hochschild and Mollenkopf 2009 extends this intellectual agenda by looking across the Atlantic and comparing the United States with Europe. Within the United States, Ramakrishnan 2005 examines how civic engagement and voting behaviors vary across immigrant generations and racial groups, providing basic descriptive trends on participation. Marrow 2009 extends our understanding of the incorporation process by focusing attention on the rural South, where Hispanic immigration is recent and many remain undocumented. The author highlights the role of “bureaucratic incorporation” in local institutions, instead of the more conventional forms of civic and political incorporation, in providing newcomers with information and resources that facilitate their involvement with local communities. Finally, Gonzales 2011 draws on ethnographic data to provide a snapshot of the obstacles and challenges that many Latino youths face as they transition into young adulthood, often learning about their legal status for the first time. The impact of legal status on life chances is an important research question that also carries important policy implications (e.g., the DREAM Act), especially in light of the fact that twelve million people of the current US population are undocumented, with the majority of them from Latin America.

  • Bloemraad, Irene. 2006. Becoming a citizen: Incorporating immigrants and refugees in the United States and Canada. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A study that compares naturalization rates between Canada and the United States. Using population and interview data with Portuguese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees in Boston and Toronto, the book highlights how differences in the role of multiculturalism and state-level support for newcomers in the receiving country shape their divergent political incorporation.

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  • Bloemraad, Irene, Anna Korteweg, and Gökçe Yurdakul. 2008. Citizenship and immigration: Multiculturalism, assimilation, and challenges to the nation-state. Annual Review of Sociology 34:153–179.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134608Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A good overview of this quickly expanding literature. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Gerstle, Gary, and John H. Mollenkopf, eds. 2001. E pluribus unum? Contemporary and historical perspectives on immigrant political incorporation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    A collection of essays on the political incorporation of immigrants both in historical and contemporary periods. This book includes chapters on the politics of incorporation, civic life, political socialization, and transnational involvements in political life, as well as its implications for the future of American politics.

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  • Gonzales, Roberto G. 2011. Learning to be illegal: Undocumented youth and shifting legal contexts in the transition to adulthood. American Sociological Review 76.4: 602–619.

    DOI: 10.1177/0003122411411901Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper focuses on the experience of undocumented youths. It highlights the predicaments of undocumented status and how these youths negotiate the bumpy transition to young adulthood.

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  • Hochschild, Jennifer L., and John H. Mollenkopf, eds. 2009. Bringing outsiders in: Transatlantic perspectives on immigrant political incorporation. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    A collection of essays that bring together scholars from both sides of the Atlantic. The book includes chapters on the experiences of ethnic and racial groups in a range of European countries, in addition to the United States. In particular, chapter 2 outlines a general model of immigrant political incorporation.

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  • Kivisto, Peter, and Thomas Faist. 2007. Citizenship: Discourse, theory, and transnational prospects. Key Themes in Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.

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    The volume summarizes debates and developments in the literature on citizenship, with a focus on the broadening and changing nature of citizenship. Individual chapters address four main themes: inclusion, erosion, withdrawal, and expansion. It also includes a discussion on the future of citizenship regimes in an era of increasing globalization.

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  • Marrow, Helen B. 2009. Immigrant bureaucratic incorporation: The dual roles of professional missions and government policies. American Sociological Review 74.5: 756–776.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240907400504Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper highlights the concept of “bureaucratic incorporation” as it applies to new immigrant destinations. Instead of traditional forms of civic and political incorporation, bureaucrats are increasingly assuming the role of integrating newcomers in these areas, where there is a lack of established institutional structures for receiving immigrants. Available online.

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  • Ramakrishnan, S. Karthick. 2005. Democracy in immigrant America: Changing demographics and political participation. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    This book provides basic patterns and trends of political incorporation for the main ethnic and racial groups, as well as variations across generations.

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Religion

Religion has been a long-neglected dimension of incorporation, but recent research has begun to fill this gap. For an accessible introduction, see Eck 2002, which includes discussion of the three new religious traditions in the United States: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. For an overview of the sociological literature on immigration and religion, see Cadge and Ecklund 2007, which provides a critical review. Empirical studies in this tradition have adopted a more comparative approach: comparing different ethnic groups in the same receiving context, comparing the same ethnic group in different receiving contexts, or comparing different ethnic groups across different historical periods and settings. Some of the earlier studies have been more descriptive than analytical, pointing to the need for further theoretical and comparative work. Alba, et al. 2009 is an excellent volume that focuses on paired comparisons within the United States: between Italians and Mexicans, Japanese and Koreans, and European Jews and Arab Muslims, as well as between African Americans and Haitians. Min 2010 extends this agenda by focusing on Indian Americans and Korean Americans in New York City, exploring how religious involvements shape the ethnic and cultural identity across immigrant generations. Going beyond the nation-state boundaries, both Levitt 2007 and Mooney 2009 adopt a transnational lens. The former focuses on four groups of migrants in one receiving context (i.e., convergent analysis), whereas the latter explores the experience of one ethnic group in three national contexts (i.e., divergent analysis). Specifically, Levitt 2007 focuses on migrants and nonmigrants in Boston, Brazil, India, Ireland, and Pakistan, highlighting the role of “religious citizenship” in structuring immigrant involvements both with the home and host societies. In contrast, Mooney 2009 examines the experience of the Haitian Catholic diaspora in Miami, Montreal, and Paris, highlighting the role of religious institutions, social service agencies, and governmental policies in mediating the immigrant experience.

  • Alba, Richard D., Albert J. Raboteau, and Josh DeWind, eds. 2009. Immigration and religion in America: Comparative and historical perspectives. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    This volume takes a historical and comparative approach to the issues of immigration and religion. The individual chapters focus on specific ethnic groups and draw explicit comparisons: Italians and Mexicans, Japanese and Koreans, and European Jews and Arab Muslims, as well as African Americans and Haitians.

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  • Cadge, Wendy, and Elaine Howard Ecklund. 2007. Immigration and religion. Annual Review of Sociology 33.1: 359–379.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131707Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review of the literature on immigration and religion. It argues that much of this research has been descriptive rather than analytical, pointing to the need for further theoretical and comparative work. Available online.

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  • Eck, Diana L. 2002. A new religious America: How a “Christian country” has become the world’s most religiously diverse nation. San Francisco: HarperCollins.

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    One of the most accessible books on the changing American religious landscape. Written with the general audience in mind, it includes individual chapters on Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, as well as a call for the urgent need to integrate and bridge across religious divides.

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  • Levitt, Peggy. 2007. God needs no passport: Immigrants and the changing American religious landscape. New York: New Press.

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    The first comparative study of transnational lives among four immigrant groups. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews both with migrants and nonmigrants in Boston, Brazil, India, Ireland, and Pakistan, the book highlights the concept of “religious citizenship,” because major religious traditions and practices regularly span across nation-state boundaries.

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  • Min, Pyong Gap. 2010. Preserving ethnicity through religion in America: Korean Protestants and Indian Hindus across generations. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    A study of Indian and Korean Americans in New York. Using survey, interview, and ethnographic data, this book explores how religious participation shapes the maintenance of ethnicity and cultural identity among first- and second-generation respondents, pointing to key organizational differences between Korean churches and Indian temples.

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  • Mooney, Margarita A. 2009. Faith makes us live: Surviving and thriving in the Haitian diaspora. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A comparative study of the Haitian Catholic diaspora in three different contexts. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews, this book documents the importance of faith and how it shapes immigrant integration into host societies. Three key chapters focus on Miami, Montreal, and Paris and explore the role of religious institutions in different contexts.

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Gender and Family Dynamics

Another line of research focuses on gender as a key factor in the immigrant experience, exploring the following themes: how gender shapes the decision to migrate, how gender relations are transformed as a result of the migration process, and how gender structures the specific forms of immigrant incorporation. For example, Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994 highlights the role of gender in shaping the migration process, pointing to the importance of family and household dynamics in structuring emigration decisions. More recently, Donato, et al. 2006 provides an overview of the research on gender in migration studies, as well as good discussion of how gender as a variable has had differential impact on the various social-scientific disciplines. One specific example of how gender matters is the way in which gender relations are often renegotiated in the US context; see Espiritu 2003 for a case study of Filipinos in San Diego. A related strand of research focuses on the immigrant family and intergenerational dynamics; for a review of this literature, see Foner and Dreby 2011. In addition, Foner 2009 is an accessible volume with individual chapters focusing on different aspects of the family dynamics: child rearing, caregiving, emotional connections, spousal choices, and parenting. Drawing on fieldwork in Mexico and the United States, Dreby 2010 provides an intimate glimpse into the experience of transnational families in which parents and children are separated by migration, as well as the emotional challenges that they face upon reunion in the United States.

  • Donato, Katharine M., Donna Gabaccia, Jennifer Holdaway, Martin Manalansan IV, and Patricia R. Pessar. 2006. A glass half full? Gender in migration studies. In Special Issue: Gender and Migration Revisited. International Migration Review 40.1: 3–26.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2006.00001.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of the scholarship on gender and migration. This article introduces the special issue. This multidisciplinary review covers topics from sociology to sexuality studies, from the United States to Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Dreby, Joanna. 2010. Divided by borders: Mexican migrants and their children. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A study on the experience of transnational families in Mexico and the United States. Using ethnographic and interview data, this book explores the lives of the migrating parents and the children they left behind, as well as the challenges both face when they are finally reunited in the United States.

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  • Espiritu, Yen Le. 2003. Home bound: Filipino American lives across cultures, communities, and countries. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A study on the experience of Filipino Americans in San Diego. Drawing on interview data, the book explores changing family dynamics in the American context and how social and historical contexts shape gender and intergenerational relations.

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  • Foner, Nancy, ed. 2009. Across generations: Immigrant families in America. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    An edited volume that summarizes empirical research on intergenerational relations. The individual chapters focus on specific ethnic groups and aspects of family dynamics, including child rearing, caregiving, emotional connections, spousal choices, and parenting. This is suitable for an undergraduate-level course.

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  • Foner, Nancy, and Joanna Dreby. 2011. Relations between the generations in immigrant families. Annual Review of Sociology 37:545–564.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-081309-150030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A good review of the research on intergenerational relations within immigrant families. The article highlights the tensions and contradictions between parents and children, as well as the implications for the integration of the second generation. The article also includes careful comparisons with the literature from the previous waves, as well as with Europe. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. 1994. Gendered transitions: Mexican experiences of immigration. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    A study of undocumented Mexican migrants that highlights the role of gender in shaping both the migration process and the adaption to American society upon arrival. The book argues that people do not migrate as a result of concerted household strategies, but as a consequence of negotiations often fraught with conflict in families and social networks. Reprinted as recently as 2000.

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Intermarriage

Intermarriage is often seen as the litmus test of assimilation. In fact, the experience of white ethnics and descendents of the previous wave of immigration from Europe has shown that the creation of “whiteness” as a racial category was the result of intermarriages across ethnic subgroups among whites, which led to a decline in ethnic distinctions across groups over generations. The majority of research on patterns of intermarriage among post-1965 immigrant groups has relied on census data, focusing on variations in intermarriage across ethnic or racial groups and across generations, and its implications for racial boundaries. In a series of recent papers, Qian and Lichter 2007; Qian and Lichter 2011; and Qian, et al. 2012 have provided descriptive trends as well as multivariate analyses of relationships and marriages. Along the same line, Morgan 2009 further distinguishes between “interracial” and “interethnic” marriages, using data from the CILS study. Another strand of research has focused on interracial and interethnic dating and relationships. For example, Feliciano, et al. 2011 and Robnett and Feliciano 2011 examine racial preferences in dating and mate choices, drawing on diverse samples of Internet daters.

  • Feliciano, Cynthia, Rennie Lee, and Belinda Robnett. 2011. Racial boundaries among Latinos: Evidence from Internet daters’ racial preferences. Social Problems 58.2: 189–212.

    DOI: 10.1525/sp.2011.58.2.189Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent paper on the preferences in interracial and interethnic relationships among Latinos. This study examines Latinos’ stated racial preferences for dates among a sample of over four thousand Internet daters in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. See also Robnett and Feliciano 2011. Available online by subscription.

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  • Morgan, Charlie V. 2009. Intermarriage across race and ethnicity among immigrants: E pluribus unions. New Americans. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

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    One of the few book-length monographs on post-1965 intermarriage. Drawing on data from the CILS study, the book distinguishes between interracial and interethnic marriages. It also provides comprehensive statistical profiles of mixed relationship by ethnic/racial groups.

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  • Qian, Zhenchao, Jennifer E. Glick, and Christie D. Batson. 2012. Crossing boundaries: Nativity, ethnicity and mate selection. Demography 49.2: 651–675.

    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0090-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A paper on overall patterns of intermarriage by generation. Using 2000 US census data, this paper focuses on Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Chinese, and Filipinos. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Qian, Zhenchao, and Daniel T. Lichter. 2007. Social boundaries and marital assimilation: Interpreting trends in racial and ethnic intermarriage. American Sociological Review 72.1: 68–94.

    DOI: 10.1177/000312240707200104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper focuses on trends in interracial marriage. Using census data from 1990 and 2000, it explores martial assimilation, incorporation, and changing racial boundaries over time and by ethnic and racial groups. Available online.

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  • Qian, Zhenchao, and Daniel T. Lichter. 2011. Changing patterns of interracial marriage in a multiracial society. Journal of Marriage and Family 73.5: 1065–1084.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2011.00866.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A paper on patterns of interracial marriage. Using 1980 census data and the 2008 American Community Survey, this paper documents a significant increase in black-white intermarriage over this period, whereas the trends for other pairings stayed constant. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Robnett, Belinda, and Cynthia Feliciano. 2011. Patterns of racial-ethnic exclusion by Internet daters. Social Forces 89.3: 807–828.

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    Explores the preferences in interracial and interethnic relationships. The paper documents differences across different ethnic and racial groups, with whites being the least open to out-dating, and that, unlike blacks, Asians and Latinos have patterns of racial exclusion similar to those of whites. See also Feliciano, et al. 2011. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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New Immigrant Destinations

Since the early 1990s, increasing numbers of immigrants have settled outside of immigrant gateway cities, in cities and small towns across the United States that had little prior experience with immigration. This overall dispersion in geographical settlement is the direct result of tighter border control along the Mexico-US border—a process that began in the early 1990s and is outlined in detail in Massey, et al. 2002. As a result, there has been growing interest in investigating the experiences of newcomers in these “new immigrant destinations,” focusing on two key themes: (1) how immigrants and their children are being incorporated in these new areas and (2) how this influx of newcomers might reshape race relations, especially the binary black-white racial structure in the US South. Studies in the first strand have focused mostly on describing the overall patterns of geographic dispersion and the local-native interactions in these new destinations. For example, Goździak and Martin 2005 provides a good overview of recent trends and general patterns, whereas Zúñiga and Hernández-León 2005 focuses on the natives’ reactions to the immigrants’ increasing presence in local communities. In the same vein, Massey 2008 provides selected snapshots from case studies across countries. In contrast, Singer, et al. 2008 broadens the traditional focus on cities as immigrant gateways to take into account the larger metropolitan area, including the suburbs, which have also witnessed a rise in immigrant concentration in the early 21st century. Studies in the second strand include Lippard and Gallagher 2011, which focuses primarily on black-Latino relations. Along the same line, Marrow 2011 is a comprehensive study of the experience of Latinos in North Carolina, exploring the process of cultural, socioeconomic, and civic incorporation in two local counties—one predominantly white, and the other predominantly black. Overall, this literature, though still nascent, is growing quickly, with a lot of exciting work forthcoming on the horizon.

  • Goździak, Elżbieta M., and Susan Forbes Martin, eds. 2005. Beyond the gateway: Immigrants in a changing America. Lanham, MD: Lexington.

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    The book brings together a series of case studies of new immigrant communities in different cities and states to highlight the interface between new immigrants and local communities. The first chapter provides a good overview of recent trends and general patterns.

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  • Lippard, Cameron D., and Charles A. Gallagher, eds. 2011. Being brown in Dixie: Race, ethnicity, and immigration in the new South. Latinos: Exploring Diversity and Change. Boulder, CO: FirstForum.

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    Another edited volume on intergroup relations in the South. The individual chapters are based on case studies of different localities and cover how blacks and Latinos negotiate each other’s presence. Other chapters focus both on points of conflicts and potential for coalition building across groups.

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  • Marrow, Helen B. 2011. New destination dreaming: Immigration, race, and legal status in the rural American South. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    The first sole-authored and book-length assessment of the immigrant experience in the South. It provides a comprehensive and locally comparative look at the economic, sociocultural, and political incorporation among Latinos in new immigrant destinations.

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  • Massey, Douglas S., ed. 2008. New faces in new places: The changing geography of American immigration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Examines the experiences of Latinos in new destinations. Using census data, population surveys, and case studies, this book highlights the challenges faced by local institutions as these small towns and cities grapple with the task of incorporating its newest comers.

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  • Massey, Douglas S., Jorge Durand, and Nolan J. Malone. 2002. Beyond smoke and mirrors: Mexican immigration in an era of economic integration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    An influential study of the pitfall of immigration control. One implication of tighter border control is the transformation of US-Mexico immigration from a circular to a permanent flow, shifting it from a regional to a national phenomenon. This dispersion results in the emergence of “new immigrant destinations” across the country.

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  • Singer, Audrey, Susan Wiley Hardwick, and Caroline B. Brettell, eds. 2008. Twenty-first-century gateways: Immigrant incorporation in suburban America. James A. Johnson Metro Series. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

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    This volume shifts the attention from gateway cities to American suburbia to document emerging trends there. Using census data and case studies, the individual chapters highlight challenges in the integration of new immigrants and its impact on suburban infrastructure such as housing, transportation, schools, health care, economic development, and public safety.

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  • Zúñiga, Víctor, and Rubén Hernández-León, eds. 2005. New destinations: Mexican immigration in the United States. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    This volume brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine the changing geography of migration, focusing on the incorporation of these newcomers and the local reactions to their increasing presence, as well as the potential accommodations and intergroup relations.

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Assimilation and the Future of the United States

How will the incorporation of post-1965 immigration reshape American society? One key theme in this emerging literature is on the relationship between natives and immigrants. Alba 2009 argues that the impending retirement of the baby boomers will provide a unique opportunity for “non-zero-sum mobility,” a scenario in which younger workers from immigrant and minority background increasingly assume managerial and professional positions that have been filled mostly by native whites. At a broader level, this points to the changing social contract between immigrants and natives. For example, Myers 2007 argues that it is actually in the retiring baby boomers’ best interest to actively invest in the education and the integration of the children of immigrants. Another key theme is how the influx of post-1965 immigrants might transform the American racial hierarchy. Lee and Bean 2010 provides a comprehensive study of major trends in intermarriage and the experience of the multiracial population. The authors argue that the color line is redrawn once again, with blacks (and potentially dark-skinned Latinos) being kept on the other side of the line. Frank, et al. 2010 explores the role of skin color and how it shapes racial identification among Latinos, and its implications for the future of the color line. A third theme focuses on the role of immigrant replenishment in the post-1965 era—see Jiménez 2008—which will play an increasingly important role in reshaping the meaning and content of assimilation. Immigrant replenishment renders assimilation among ethnic groups “invisible” because newcomers from various ethnic backgrounds will continue to supply ethnic enclaves and economies not only with raw ethnic cultural content, but also with population replacement. In other words, the inner-city Chinatown or the Mexican barrios will continue to be occupied by the most recently arrived members of these groups, despite the fact that previous cohorts of these very same ethnic groups might have experienced both socioeconomic and residential upward mobility. A fourth theme focuses on experiences of the approximately twelve million undocumented immigrants who are predominantly Latino. Their successful incorporation will carry important implications for the future of American society because this population currently lives in the shadow of our society, with no legal rights. For example, Bean, et al. 2011 and Gonzales 2011 provide the first analyses that explore the impact of legal status on the socioeconomic incorporation of second-generation Mexicans and Asian ethnic groups.

  • Alba, Richard D. 2009. Blurring the color line: The new chance for a more integrated America. Nathan I. Huggins Lectures. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    A cautiously optimistic prediction on the blurring of racial boundaries. The book argues that the next decades provide a unique window for “non-zero-sum mobility” for second-generation and minority groups, because native, white baby boomers reaching retirement age will increasingly be replaced by younger, nonwhite successors, allowing these groups to experience substantial upward mobility.

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  • Bean, Frank D., Mark A. Leach, Susan K. Brown, James D. Bachmeier, and John R. Hipp. Summer 2011. The educational legacy of unauthorized migration: Comparisons across U.S.-immigrant groups in how parents’ status affects their offspring. International Migration Review 45.2: 348–385.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2011.00851.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the impact of parents’ legal status on second-generation outcomes. The findings are consistent both with straight-line and segmented theories of assimilation. On the one hand, Asian ethnic groups exhibit intergenerational progress that is consistent with classical predictions, whereas Mexicans show clear signs of delayed incorporation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Frank, Reanne, Ilana Redstone Akresh, and Bo Lu. 2010. Latino immigrants and the U.S. racial order: How and where do they fit in? American Sociological Review 75.3: 378–401.

    DOI: 10.1177/0003122410372216Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This paper addresses how Latinos’ identification reshapes American racial boundary. Finds that skin color shapes racial identification among Latinos, with dark-skinned Latinos less likely to identify as “white.” Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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  • Gonzales, Roberto G. 2011. Learning to be illegal: Undocumented youth and shifting legal contexts in the transition to adulthood. American Sociological Review 76.4: 602–619.

    DOI: 10.1177/0003122411411901Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A key study that explores the impact of legal status on the experience of undocumented Mexican youths as they transition into young adulthood.

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  • Jiménez, Tomás R. 2008. Mexican-immigrant replenishment and the continuing significance of ethnicity and race. American Journal of Sociology 113.6: 1527–1567.

    DOI: 10.1086/587151Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Using Mexican Americans as a case study, the author argues that immigrant replenishment has a direct impact on the durability and nature of ethnic boundaries. Specifically, ongoing immigration from Mexico sharpens both intergroup and intragroup boundaries, thereby reinforcing the salience of ethnicity and nativity while altering the overall pace of assimilation. Available online.

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  • Lee, Jennifer, and Frank D. Bean. 2010. The diversity paradox: Immigration and the color line in 21st-century America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press.

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    Examines the experience of the emerging multiracial population. Drawing on census data and in-depth interviews, the book explores how post-1965 diversity reshapes American racial boundaries. Asians and Latinos of mixed ancestry are less constrained by strict racial categories, whereas blacks are confined to the other side of the color line.

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  • Myers, Dowell. 2007. Immigrants and boomers: Forging a new social contract for the future of America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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    Using census data, this book shows significant progress among Latinos over time. It argues that the fate and fortune of natives and immigrants are closely linked and that it is in the retiring baby boomers’ best interest to actively invest in the education and the integration of the children of immigrants.

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LAST MODIFIED: 11/21/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756384-0101

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