41 Int'l Migration Rev. 3 (2007)

handle is hein.journals/imgratv41 and id is 1 raw text is: 






Did Manufacturing Matter?

The Experience of Yesterday's Second

Generation: A Reassessment

Roger Waldinger
Department ofSociology, UCLA

    Research on the new second generation takes the success of the earlier
    second generation of southern and eastern Europeans  as its point of
    departure, but with little empirical basis. The hypothesis of segmented
    assimilation asserts that the children of the 1880-1920 immigration
    moved  ahead due to the availability of well-paying, relatively low-skilled
    jobs in manufacturing.  By  contrast, defenders of the conventional
    approach to assimilation accent diffusionary processes, while conceding
    that the specific means by which the children of immigrants improved on
    their parents' condition remains a matter about which relatively little is
    known.  This article returns to the world of the last second generation,
    just before it disappeared, to inquire into the extent and nature of the
    economic differences separating the adult immigrant offspring of the time
    from  their third-generation-plus counterparts. Using data from the
    1970 Census of Population, this article shows that manufacturing mattered,
    but in ways neither expected nor consistent with either of today's prevailing,
    theoretical approaches.


The descendants of the last great migration to the United States had but a brief
moment  in the sun. Social scientists and social reformers of the early twentieth
century  worried about  a second  generation problem  in ways  eerily
reminiscent of the formulations popular today (Smith, 1939). But history soon
took care of the matter: immigration was controlled; the nation found new
sources of social solidarity in the struggle against the Depression and various
enemies abroad; and the cleavages produced by the earlier allergy to immigration
were eclipsed after conflicts over race moved to the fore (Gerstle, 2001). While
a white ethnic movement suddenly emerged when the civil rights battleground
headed to the north, the moment proved evanescent. The neighborhoods and
organizations formed out of the earlier immigrant experience were still there
but fast dissolving, as they couldn't hold on to their own (Alba, 1990). Once
the third generation headed out to suburbia - where social scientists proclaimed
ethnicity to be strictly optional (Waters, 1990) - the world of the so-called
white ethnics largely disappeared.

 2007 by the Center for Migration Studies of New York. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2007.00055.x


IMR Volume 41 Number  1 (Spring 2007):3-39


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