The Future of Ethnic Enclaves in the United States
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Why is the study of ethnic enclaves important? There are ethnic enclaves and then there are ghettos, but the line that separates them is very blurry. Ethnic enclaves can be seen as beneficial to immigrants but there are also patterns that show that immigrants are facing discrimination that inhibits their ability to move outside of these neighborhoods. Chinese and Cuban immigrants, both part of a new wave of immigration faced by the U.S., face a unique immigration experience which affects how well they get along in the United States. In the 1920’s University of Chicago sociologists such as Milton Gordon and Robert Park studied eastern European immigrants and theorized about what motivated them to live in these ethnic neighborhoods and then what characteristics were necessary for them to leave. Milton Gordon theorized that the immigrants would follow a seven step process toward eventual assimilation with the mainstream culture that would lead to the disappearance of ethnic enclaves. Robert Park showed that with increased socioeconomic attainment people would use capital to move further away from these enclave areas. The research shown here takes the spatial assimilation model, the structural inequality model, the segmented assimilation model, and queuing theories to look at more contemporary immigration, in specific the cases of Cuban and Chinese immigrants.