In sociology, an ethnic enclave is a geographic area with high ethnic concentration, characteristic cultural identity, and economic activity. The term is usually used to refer to either a residential area or a workspace with a high concentration of ethnic firms. Their success and growth depends on self-sufficiency, and is coupled with economic prosperity. The theory of social capital and the formation of migrant networks creates the social foundation for ethnic enclaves. Douglas Massey describes how migrant networks provide new immigrants with social capital that can be transferred to other tangible forms. As immigrants tend to cluster in close geographic spaces, they develop migrant networks—systems of interpersonal relations through which participants can exchange valuable resources and knowledge. Immigrants can capitalize on social interactions by transforming information into tangible resources, and thereby lower costs of migration. Information exchanged may include knowledge of employment opportunities, affordable housing, government assistance programs and helpful NGOs. Thus by stimulating social connections, ethnic enclaves generate a pool of intangible resources that help to promote the social and economic development of its members. By providing a space for co-ethnics to create potentially beneficial relations, ethnic enclaves assist members in achieving economic mobility. Enclaves create an alternative labor market that is ethnic-specific and does not demand social and cultural skills of the host country. By eliminating language and cultural barriers, enclave economies employ a greater proportion of co-ethnics and speed the incorporation of new immigrants into a bustling economy. By increasing employment opportunities and facilitating upward mobility, studying ethnic enclaves helps to explain the success of some immigrant groups. Additionally, while the ethnic enclave theory was developed to explain immigrant incorporation into the receiving society, it has also been linked to migration processes at large as successful incorporation of immigrants has the potential to lower migration costs for future immigrants, an example of chain migration. Despite their immediate benefits, the long-term implications of participation in an ethnic enclave are a topic of debate. Enclave economies have been linked to a glass ceiling limiting immigrant growth and upward mobility. While participation in the enclave economy may assist in achieving upward mobility through increased availability of employment opportunities in the enclave labor market, it may also impede acquisition of host country skills that benefit the immigrant over the long-run. Latency in learning the language and social norms of the receiving country constrains immigrants to activity within the enclave and secludes them from the larger receiving context. Opportunities available to mainstream society can thus be out of reach for immigrants who lack both the knowledge of these services and the ability to access them. Thus, the accelerated path toward economic mobility that lures new immigrants into enclave economies pose a challenge to potential success. Integration into an ethnic enclave may delay and even halt assimilation to the host society, preventing the immigrants from benefiting from mainstream institutions.
1 History 2 Theories
2.1 Enclave economy hypothesis 2.2 Cumulative causation
3 Modes of incorporation
3.1.1 Quality of kinship networks 3.1.2 Ethnic identity 3.1.3 Enclave networks
3.2 Economic 3.3 Political/civic
5.1 Effects on society
6 Historical ethnic enclaves 7 See also 8 References
Historically, the formation of ethnic enclaves has been the result of
a variety of socioeconomic factors that draw immigrants to similar
spaces in the receiving country. The lack of access to economic
capital and of knowledge regarding residential neighborhoods can
constrain newly arrived immigrants to regions of affordable housing.
Social dynamics such as prejudice and racism may concentrate
co-ethnics into regions displaying ethnic similarity. Housing
discrimination may also prevent ethnic minorities from settling into a
particular residential area outside the enclave. When discussing the
ethnic enclave as defined by a spatial cluster of businesses, success
and growth can be largely predicted by three factors. These factors
include 1) the size and population of the enclave 2) the level of
entrepreneurial skills of those in the enclave and 3) the availability
of capital resources to the enclave. Successful enclaves can reach a
point where they become self-sufficient, or "institutionally complete"
through the supply of new immigrants and demand of goods offered in
the market. They only reach this point after first supplying for the
needs of co-ethnics and then expanding to meet needs of those in the
larger market of the host society.
The term "ethnic enclave" arose in response to a publication by
Alejandro Portes and Kenneth Wilson in 1980. Portes and Wilson
identified a third labor market in which Cuban immigrants in Miami
took part. Instead of entering the secondary labor market of the host
society, Portes and Wilson discovered that new immigrants tended to
become employed by co-ethnics running immigrant-owned firms. The
collection of small immigrant enterprises providing employment to new
immigrants was defined as the enclave economy.
Enclave economy hypothesis
Observations of the Cuban ethnic enclave economy in Miami led
Alejandro Portes and Kenneth Wilson to conclude that participation in
an enclave economy provided immigrants with an alternative, speedy
option to achieve economic mobility in a host society. The discourse
pioneered by Portes and Wilson produced the construct for a body of
literature that came to be known by the ethnic enclave hypothesis.
While never empirically defined, the term "ethnic enclave" began to be
widely used to represent two distinct definitions: that of an enclave
economy and that of a residential area of high co-ethnic
concentration. The most fundamental concept within the enclave
hypothesis is that of social capital, which lays the foundation for
the establishment of migrant networks and the advantages associated
See also: Chain migration
With the rise in globalization and ease of international
transportation, patterns of immigration show the role of ethnic
enclaves for contributing to increased migration over time. New
immigrants unintentionally lower costs for future immigration of
co-ethnics by pooling together resources for themselves. Thus, by
achieving mobility in the receiving country themselves, immigrants
create a social structure that makes it easier for future immigrants
to become upwardly mobile. According to Douglas Massey, "Networks
build into the migration process a self-perpetuating momentum that
leads to its growth over time, in spite of fluctuating wage
differentials, recessions, and increasingly restrictive immigration
policies."  Ethnic enclaves thus contribute to continued
immigration by providing co-ethnics with a space to make connections
that ultimately lower migration costs and promote economic mobility.
Many worn path taken by former immigrants are made accessible to
enclave members, making immigration easier to future generations. By
generating further immigration, migration leads to its own cumulative
causation over time.
Modes of incorporation
An approach that analyzes ethnic enclaves and their members by their
modes of incorporation is preferred to a neoclassical model, which
states that the economic success of immigrants depends on the
education, work experience, and other elements of human capital that
they possess. Sociologists have concluded that these factors do
not suffice in explaining the integration and success of immigrants
measured by occupational mobility and earnings.
Upon arrival to a foreign country, immigrants face challenges in
assimilation and integration processes and thus experience different
modes and levels of incorporation within the host society. Many
factors influence the level of ease or challenge experienced by
immigrants as they make the transition and undergo physical, social,
and psychological challenges. The segmented assimilation model notes
that there can exist a "consciously pluralistic society in which a
variety of subcultures and racial and ethnic identities coexist"
One influential factor in an immigrant's journey is the presence of
relatives or friends in the receiving country. Friends and family,
making up a kinship network, who are willing to help the newcomers can
be classified as a type of capital commonly referred to as social
capital. Upon arrival, many immigrants have limited or no access to
human capital and thus rely heavily on any available source of social
capital. The cost to immigration is large, however this burden can
be shared and thus eased through an immigrant's access to social
capital in the receiving country.
Bilingual street sign in Houston's Chinatown
Government policy toward immigrants is the first mode of reception to
the receiving country. Governments generally enforce measures to
reduce the amount of "unwanted" immigrants which may potentially pose
a burden on the receiving society and economy. The granting of
different statuses and visas (i.e. refugee, temporary visas for
students and workers) to immigrant groups affects the type of
reception immigrants will receive. Aside from immigration control
policies, some governments also impose measures to accelerate social
and political incorporation of new immigrants, and to stimulate
Wayne Cornelius studies two central theses regarding institutional
response to increased movement of people across transnational borders.
The first of these is the gap hypothesis which describes the
dissonance between official immigration policies and real policy
outcomes. Policy gaps are the result of unintended consequences and
inadequate enforcement by the receiving society. Many reasons can
explain unintended consequences of immigration policy. Governments
with undefined or ambiguous stances toward immigration may propagate
unintended consequences, and the reliance on flawed policies can
further reduce the efficacy of institutional measures. Furthermore,
political incoherency policy poses a greater challenge for the
incorporation and enforcement of effective measures.
A negative public opinion toward immigrants is a good measure of
significant policy gaps in the receiving government; however, special
interest groups may also constrain political responses to immigration.
This is especially true in liberal democracies, where "lobbying by
powerful employer groups, religious groups, ethnic and immigrant
advocacy groups, and even labor unions leads governments to adopt more
expansionary immigration policies, even when the economy goes bad and
general public opinion turns hostile to immigrants."  Furthermore,
governments and special groups in the immigrant-sending country may
align themselves with pro-immigration lobbyists in the receiving
country. Thus, the policymaking process is complicated by involvement
of multiple factions.
The second thesis studied by Wayne Cornelius is the convergence
hypothesis which describes the growing similarity of political
responses to immigration among immigrant-receiving countries. These
similarities fall into: "(1) the policies that their governments have
adopted to control immigration; (2) policies designed to integrate
immigrants into host societies by providing them with social services
as well as political, economic, and social rights; and (3) attitudes
toward immigrants and immigration policy preferences among general
Ethnic groups receive various levels of reception by the host society
for various reasons. In general, European immigrants tend to encounter
little resistance by host countries, while tenets of racism are
evinced by widespread resistance to immigrants of color.
Political incorporation into the host country is coupled with adoption
of citizenship of the host country. By studying the diverging
trajectories of immigrant citizenship in Canada and the U.S., Irene
Bloemraad explains that current models of citizenship acquisition fail
to recognize the social nature of political incorporation. Bloemraad
describes political incorporation as a "social process of mobilization
by friends, family, community organizations and local leaders that is
embedded in an institutional context shaped by government policies of
diversity and newcomer settlement."  This alternative model
emphasizes the role of migrant networks in critically shaping how
immigrants consider citizenship. Bloemraad shows that friends, family,
co-ethnic organizations and local community affect political
incorporation by providing a structured mobilization framework. This
social structure is most essential for immigrants who face language
barriers and may lack familiarity with host institutions.
The extent to which migrant networks promote citizenship depends on
the efficacy of government policies on immigrant integration.
Governments adopting policies that facilitate the emergence,
integration and growth of ethnic economies are presumed to gain
support by co-ethnics. Thus, the movement toward political
incorporation and citizenship is nested in a larger institutional
structure involving economic and social integration policy as these
relate to immigrants. Ethnic enclaves have the ability to
simultaneously assist in political and civic incorporation of
immigrants. By providing a space that facilitates upward mobility and
economic integration into the receiving society, enclaves and their
members fundamentally influence the perceptions of receiving
institutions by co-ethnics. Finally, enclaves may gauge community
interest in naturalization and direct immigrants through the process
to gaining citizenship
List of ethnic enclaves in North American cities Ethnoburb Ghetto Language island
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