28 Int'l Migration Rev. 3 (1994)

handle is hein.journals/imgratv28 and id is 1 raw text is: 

The   Making of an Immigrant Niche'
Roger Waldinger
Unversity of California, Los Angeles
    Although the dominant paradigm  of immigrant employment  views
    immigrants as clustered in a limited number of occupations or indus-
    tries hat comprise a niche, the explanations of how immigrants enter
    and establish these niches remain incomplete. While most researchers
    emphasize the importance of social networks, the social network ap-
    proach begs the issue of how to account for the insertion and consoli-
    dation of immigrant networks as opposed  to those dominated by
    incumbent native workers. This article seeks to answer this question
    through a case study of immigrantprofessional employeesinNewYork
    City government. I argue that the growth of this im ant  niche
    resulted from changes in the relative supply of native workers and in
    the structure of employment, which opened the bureaucracy to immi-
    grants and reduced  native/immigrant  competition. These shifts
    opened hiring portals; given the advantages of network hiring for
    workers and managers, and an immigrant propensity for government
    em  loyment, network recruitment led to a rapid buildup in immigrant



A   lthough the dominant  paradigm of immigrant  employment  views
    immigrants as clustered in a limited number of occupations o indus-
tries that comprise a niche (Morawska, 1990; Model, forthcoming; U.S.
Department of Labor, 1989), the explanations of how immigrants enter and
establish these niches remain incomplete. As with so many other matters in
immigration research, a social network approach provides the best tool for
approaching the issue (Tilly, 1990). In the context of immigrant employ-
ment, networks comprise a source of social capital,just as Coleman (1988)
has specified, providing social structures that facilitate action, in this case,
job search, hiring, recruitment, and training. Networks are particularly
critical for their role in organizing information flows between newcomers
and settlers, on the one hand, and between workers and employers on the
other; by increasing the quality and quantity of information, networks
increase immigrants' ability to access employment opportunities and re-
duce  employers' risks associated with hiring and training (Bailey and
Waldinger, 1991).
  While cogent, the network approach omits a critical issue: namely, how
to account for the insertion and consolidation of immigrant networks as
opposed  to those dominated by incumbent native workers. That is, unless
immigrants move  into an entirely new or rapidly expanding industry, a
common   enough situation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
but unusual today, they must enter as replacements for some previously
established group.

1 Thanks to Ivan Light, Carroll Seron, and the anonymous readers and editors of IMR for
comments on an earlier draft.


IMR Volume xxviii, No.1


3

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