Beyond the Immigrant Enclave: Network Change and Assimilation

Beyond the Immigrant Enclave: Network Change and Assimilation

Beyond the Immigrant Enclave: Network Change and Assimilation

Beyond the Immigrant Enclave: Network Change and Assimilation

Synopsis

Immigrant communities even poor ones are often portrayed as solidary and supportive. Wierzbicki examines the presence and homogeneity of ties among the foreign- and native-born of different ethnic groups. She finds that the foreign-born consistently report fewer ties than the native-born, in part because of less education or shorter duration of residence.The foreign-born also have more ethnically homogeneous ties, even when they live outside enclaves and in wealthier areas. This finding has implications for theories of assimilation or incorporation. For lack of network data, previous examination of assimilation has often relied on patterns of residential settlement rather than actual social ties. This study indicates that the foreign-born may assimilate spatially but not socially.

Excerpt

Et tous ensemble
Dans cet hôtel
Savons la langue
Comme à Babel

Fermons nos portes
A double tour
Chacun apporte
Son seul amour

(Guillaume Apollinaire, “Hôtels”)

When Apollinaire wrote of boarding-house life, “We fasten and then bolt each door / Bearing self-love and no more,” he understood the potential loneliness of the unattached sojourner. While isolation and alienation have long been staple literary themes, they also emerged as central themes in social research on early 20 -century immigrants. Despite the importance of ethnic churches and other immigrant institutions, social scientists long portrayed European immigrants as uprooted, unacculturated and alone (e.g. Thomas and Znaniecki 1984, Wirth 1938, Handlin 1952) . . .

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