How the Other Half Works: Immigration and the Social Organization of Labor

By Roger Waldinger; Michael I. Lichter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Conclusion

America entered the twentieth century in the throes of a mass migration; it began the twenty-first century in much the same way. Like their predecessors, today's new arrivals cluster at the bottom of the skill spectrum, many arriving with few of the proficiencies that the native-born enjoy. Like the immigrants of old, most of today's less-educated newcomers hail from countries where the industrial structure has not caught up to that of the United States, limiting the degree to which skills can be transferred from back home. 1 As before, the racial status of the newcomers is in question—although the transformation of the “swarthy” immigrants from southern and eastern Europe into white “ethnics” and then white Americans is a reminder that a group's “racial status” is a characteristic of the host society, not something inherent in the group. In the end, the key difference between then and now involves the economy and the role it affords the newcomers: America's booming industries once hungered for any worker with two arms and two legs, but today the immigrantdominated industries of old are all but gone.

So, since the industries that fed on past waves of immigration have themselves passed on, why do less-educated immigrants continue to arrive? Of course, life in the United States is better than in the places from which the immigrants came; even at the bottom of the U. S. labor market, wages rank high when compared to those in nearby countries—sufficiently so, that would-be movers are persuaded that migration is well worth its not inconsiderable costs. What is less clear is how the U. S.

-218-

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How the Other Half Works: Immigration and the Social Organization of Labor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Part One - How the Other Half Works 1
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 3
  • Part Two - The Social Organization of Labor 29
  • Chapter 2 - What Employers Want 31
  • Chapter 3 - Doing the Job 42
  • Chapter 4 - The Language of Work 63
  • Part Three - From Market to Work 81
  • Chapter 5 - Network, Bureaucracy, and Exclusion 83
  • Chapter 6 - Social Capital and Social Closure 100
  • Chapter 7 - Bringing the Boss Back In 121
  • Part Four - Prejudice, Preferences, and Conflict 139
  • Chapter 8 - Whom Employers Want 141
  • Chapter 9 - Us and them 155
  • Chapter 10 - Diversity and Its Discontents 181
  • Part Five - Ethnicity at Work 203
  • Chapter 11 - Black/immigrant Competition 205
  • Chapter 12 - Conclusion 218
  • Appendix - The Local Context 235
  • Notes 253
  • Index 277
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