Advertisement

Cities, Migrant Incorporation, and Ethnicity: A Network Perspective on Boundary Work

  • Janine DahindenEmail author
Article

Abstract

In this article, I am interested in the different types of boundaries emerging in a city characterized by a highly diverse population. The analysis of the personal social networks of 250 inhabitants of a small Swiss City—different types of migrants as well as non-migrants—supplemented by data from qualitative interviews brings to light the important categories for the creation of boundaries and the place of ethnicity among them. The inhabitant’s network structures display specific network boundaries that are translated into symbolic and also social boundaries: four different clusters emerge among the population, pointing to their stratified social positioning in this city. Hereby an interplay of nationality, education, local establishment, mobility type, “race,” and religion are the most important structuring factors. It becomes clear that the common ideas of assimilation cannot grasp the complexity of the “categorical game” at place in this city when it comes to migrant’s incorporation.

Keywords

Cities Ethnicity Boundary work Social capital Social networks Switzerland Transnationality 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation. I thank René Schaffert for statistical support and help with data analysis, Bülent Kaya and Clément de Senarclens for their research assistance. Ellen Hertz, Christin Achermann, Kerstin Dümmler, and Marylène Lieber offered precious advice and critiques on an earlier draft of this article. A first version of this paper was discussed at the CRONEM conference 2009, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. I also thank Susanne Wessendorf who invited me to present my ideas at the IMISCOE/SUSDIV workshop, “Researching ‘Super-diversity’ in European cities” in 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. I am also grateful for the comments by the reviewers of JIMI which have certainly allowed a sharpening of the argument. Any errors or inaccuracies are under my responsibility.

References

  1. Alba, R. (2005). Bright vs. blurred boundaries: second-generation assimilation and exclusion in France, Germany, and the United States. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28(1), 20–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barth, F. (1969). Introduction. In F. Barth (Ed.), Ethnic groups and boundaries: the social organization of culture difference (pp. 9–38). London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  3. Bauböck, R. (1998). The crossing and blurring of boundaries in international migration. Challenges for social and political theory. In R. Bauböck & J. Rundell (Eds.), Blurred boundaries: migration, ethnicity, citizenship (pp. 17–52). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P. (1980). Le capital social. Notes provisoires. Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 31, 2–3.Google Scholar
  5. Brubaker, R. (2004). Ethnicity without groups. In A. Wimmer, R. J. Goldstone, D. L. Horowith, U. Joras, & C. Schetter (Eds.), Facing ethnic conflict. Toward a new realism (pp. 34–52). Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  6. Burt, R. S. (1983). Range. In R. S. Burt & M. J. Minor (Eds.), Applied network analysis: a methodological introduction (pp. 176–194). Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Charmaz, K. (2001). Qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analysis. In J. F. Gubrium & J. A. Holstein (Eds.), Handbook of interview research. Context and methods (pp. 675–694). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. The American Journal of Sociology, 94, 95–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dahinden, J. (2009a). Are we all transnationals now? Network transnationalism and transnational subjectivity: the differing impacts of globalization on the inhabitants of a small Swiss city. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32(8), 1365–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dahinden, J. (2009b). Understanding (post-)Yugoslav migration through the lenses of current concepts in migration research: migrant networks and transnationalism. In U. Brunnbauer (Ed.), Transnational societies, transterritorial politics. Migration in the (post-)Yugoslav Area, 19th–21st centuries. Series “Südosteuropäische Arbeiten, Band 41 (Series ‘Südosteuropäische Arbeiten, edited by the Südost-Institut, pp. 249–263). Oldenburg: Oldenburg Wissenschaftsverlag.Google Scholar
  11. Duemmler, K., Dahinden, J., & Moret, J. (2010). Gender equality as ‘cultural stuff’: ethnic boundary work in a classroom in Switzerland. Diversities, 12(1), 19–37.Google Scholar
  12. Elias, N., & Scotson, J. L. (1965). The established and the outsiders. A sociological enquiry into community problems. London: Frank Cass & Co.Google Scholar
  13. Flap, H., & Völker, B. (Eds.). (2004). Creation and returns of social capital. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Flap, H., Snijders, T., Völker, B., & Van der Gaag, M. (2005). Measurement instruments for social capital of individuals. Questionnaire items as used in the 1999/2000 nation wide study “Social relations and networks in the neighborhood and at the workplace: The Social survey of the Networks of the Dutch (SSND)—a joint project of the universities of Utrecht, Groningen and Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  15. Glick Schiller, N., & Caglar, A. (Eds.). (2011). Locating migration. Rescaling cities and migrants. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Gordon, M. (1964). Assimilation in American life. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. The American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jenkins, R. (1997). Rethinking ethnicity: arguments and explorations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Lamont, M., & Molnar, V. (2002). The study of boundaries in the social sciences. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 167–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levitt, P., & Glick Schiller, N. (2004). Conceptualizing simultaneity: a transnational social field perspective on society. International Migration Review, 38(3), 1002–1039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lin, N. (1999). Building a network theory of social capital. Connections, 22(1), 28–51.Google Scholar
  22. Marsden, P. V. (1990). Core discussion networks of americans. American Sociological Review, 52, 122–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). Birds of a feather: homophily in social networks. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 415–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Meyer, J.-B. (2001). Network approach versus brain drain: lessons from the diaspora. International Migration, 39(5), 91–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Moore, G. (1990). Structural determinants of men’s and women’s personal networks. American Sociological Review, 55(5), 726–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pachucki, M. A., Pendergrass, S., & Lamont, M. (2007). Boundary processes: recent theoretical developments and new contributions. Poetics, 35, 331–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Portes, A., Fernandez-Kelly, M. P., & Haller, W. (2009). the Adaptation of the Immigrant Second Generation in America: a theoretical overview and recent evidence. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 35(7), 1077–1104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schweizer, T. (1988). Netzwerkanalyse als moderne Strukturanalyse. In T. Schweizer (Ed.), Netzwerkanalyse. Ethnologische Perspektiven (pp. 1–34). Berlin: Reimer.Google Scholar
  29. Scott, J. (1991). Social network analysis. A handbook. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Van der Gaag, M., & Snijders, T. (2004). Proposal for the measurement of individual social capital. In H. Flap & B. Völker (Eds.), Creation and returns of social capital. A new research program (pp. 199–218). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6), 1024–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Weber, M. (1980 [1922]). Ethnische Gemeinschaftsbeziehungen. In Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie (pp. 234–244). Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr.Google Scholar
  33. Weber, M. (1991 [1904]). Die “Objektivität” sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis. In M. Sukale (Ed.), Max Weber. Schriften zur Wissenschaftslehre (pp. 21–101). Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam.Google Scholar
  34. Wimmer, A. (2004). Does ethnicity matter? Everyday group formation in three Swiss immigrant neighbourhoods. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 27(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wimmer, A. (2008). The making and unmaking of ethnic boundaries: a multilevel process theory. The American Journal of Sociology, 113(4).Google Scholar
  36. Wimmer, A., & Glick Schiller, N. (2002). Methodological nationalism and beyond: nation-state building, migration and the social sciences. Global Networks, 2(4), 301–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhou, M. (1997). Segmented assimilation: issues, controversies, and recent research on the new second generation. International Migration Review, 31(4), 975–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’études transnationales et des processus sociaux, Maison d’analyse des processus sociaux-MAPSUniversité de NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations