Is brown the new black? : mediated Latino incorporation in new immigrant destinations
- Drawing from fifteen months of participant observation research and nearly 300 interviews with Latinos, African Americans and whites, I examine Latino immigrant incorporation and its influence on race and ethnic relations in a historically two-group (i.e., black and white) racial context. I examine this change in the "new immigrant destination" of South Carolina under two economic conditions: during economic prosperity (09/05-09/06) and during a period of economic crisis (summer 2009). South Carolina is an important context for this research because, similarly to other states in the South, it is undergoing a process of economic restructuring and rapid demographic transformation. Industries are moving to South Carolina to profit from low-cost labor, tax incentives and weak labor unions. This economic transformation has attracted a large and growing Latino immigrant population, challenging the region's historic black and white racial order. In order to uncover the processes and mechanisms associated with immigrant incorporation in an existing two-group racial system, I examine the everyday lives of Latino immigrants as they come into contact with African American and white populations and as they settle into a new immigrant destination. The overarching theme of this dissertation is that assimilation in new destination communities is occurring as a result of a process of mediated incorporation. Mediated incorporation refers to the behaviors and strategies of powerful actors (cultural brokers) and organizations that arbitrage (in some cases) and mediate (in others) the relationships of new immigrants in distinct institutional contexts and communities. The idea of mediated incorporation builds on the notion that new immigrant communities lack the social infrastructure available to immigrants in traditional destinations (Waters and Jiménez 2005). That is, nontraditional destinations are not as endowed with individuals and organizations (e.g., advocacy and government funded organizations and language services) willing and able to facilitate incorporation as are more traditional immigrant regions. To illustrate the processes and mechanisms of mediated incorporation in detail, I draw from three cases developed as stand-alone papers. The first paper, "Orchestrated Replacement and Labor Queues in New Immigrant Destinations, " analyzes the role of labor market processes and mechanisms in mediating the incorporation of immigrant populations in new destinations. Scholars have reached near agreement that replacement of native born workers with immigrants is unlikely and that, if replacement on the basis of race and ethnicity were to happen, market forces would drive this process. Using data collected while working as a supervisor in a large manufacturing facility in South Carolina for seven months and as an assembly line worker in six other organizations, I provide evidence of a process of ethnic replacement that occurs "by design" and that has direct negative consequences on race and ethnic relations. I argue that employers do replace natives with immigrant workers through a process of "orchestrated labor replacement." Orchestrated replacement refers to the deliberate and strategic efforts of employers to change the ethno-racial composition of the labor force in favor of a particular ethnic group. This process differs from traditional forms of discrimination in the labor market in that hiring and maintaining a constant stream of workers from the ethnic group that employers want involves long-term coordination of hiring activities with labor contractors and cultural brokers. My findings show how a systematic managerial strategy to replace low-skilled black workers with "enclaves" of unauthorized Mexican immigrants dramatically changed the ethnic composition of a major manufacturing facility from having a labor force of primarily African American and white workers to having primarily Latino immigrant workers. The management's systematic replacement of black workers with unauthorized immigrants at the factory was driven by the interplay of complex mechanisms involving gender and racial beliefs and was complicated by legal dynamics. These processes, in turn, determine the degree to which the ethnic composition of an organization's labor force comes to favor a particular group. The second paper, "Embedded and External Brokers: the Distinct Roles of Intermediaries in Immigrant Labor Market Incorporation, " examines the central role that second-generation labor brokers play in arbitrating unauthorized immigrants' access to and permanence in jobs in the formal economy. Other studies have noted the importance of bureaucratic agents (e.g., interpreters in schools, health clinics, police departments) in mediating incorporation into the host society via the rendering of public services (Marrow 2009; Jones-Correa 2005, 2008), but few scholars have examined the role of cultural brokers as "for profit" agents that not only socialize workers for the labor market but that may also influence segmented assimilation. Drawing from data collected while I assumed the role of "broker" and from observations of and interviews with other brokers, I examine the typical scenario in which immigrants (particularly unauthorized and/or non-English speaking) tend to rely on a single broker for most of their transactions with the host society. I show that the expansive and unique nature of the single broker role endows brokers with unrestrained power over immigrants. I argue that in "distributed brokerage" situations, those in which more than one broker mediates social and institutional relations (e.g., a temporary agency and a bilingual supervisor), the risk of power abuse diminishes. Decreased power asymmetry in immigrant relations, I contend, is associated with improved socioeconomic outcomes. Additionally, I argue that brokerage is becoming a dominant occupation for second-generation and secondary migrants and it is often a primary path to social mobility for Latino immigrants. The third paper, "Bible Belt Immigrants: Latino Religious Incorporation in New Immigrant Destinations, " examines the role of churches as mediators of integration. Scholars have paid scant attention to the cultural components of assimilation in new immigrant destinations. I highlight the importance of this dimension by examining the role of churches. Drawing from participant observation research and interviews in four religious organizations (two Protestant and two Catholic), I argue that, by shaping other dimensions of assimilation such as English language acquisition, social network diversity, and familiarity with local norms, churches are intervening organizations that promote integration for some immigrants while hindering it for others. White, Protestant churches tend to facilitate incorporation. Latino Catholic churches, on the other hand, seem to alienate many new immigrants, often limiting access to information about jobs, to English classes and to the moral and psychological support necessary for settlement in a new region. I emphasize that attention to the role of religious organizations is central because churches are the primary social and civic institutions in new destinations in the American South. Together, these three papers contribute to a growing literature on immigration in nontraditional destinations and provide insights into the type of incorporation occurring in new immigrant destinations. In particular, I highlight the interrelation between three key dimensions in the process of mediated incorporation: (1) For-profit; (2) Individual; and (3) Non-profit. An explanation of the process of incorporation emerging in new destinations would not be complete without taking into consideration how these different spheres interact to promote or hinder incorporation. Furthermore, an independent analysis of the mediator/broker role is essential in order to understand the internal dynamics within and between organizations that shape immigrant incorporation and race relations as regions undergo rapid demographic and economic change.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Sociology.
|McDermott, Monica, 1971-
|McDermott, Monica, 1971-
|Grusky, David B
|Jiménez, Tomás R. (Tomás Roberto), 1975-
|Grusky, David B
|Jiménez, Tomás R. (Tomás Roberto), 1975-
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Sociology.
|Ph.D. Stanford University 2011
- © 2011 by Laura Lopez-Sanders
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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