Still the Promised City?: African-Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York by Roger Waldinger (Paperback, 1999)
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- DescriptionStill the Promised City? addresses the question of why African-Americans have fared to so poorly in securing unskilled jobs in the postwar era and why new immigrants have done so well. Does the increase in immigration bear some responsibility for the failure of more blacks to rise, for their disappearance from many occupations and for their failure to establish a presence in business? The two most popular explanations for the condition of blacks invoke the decline of manufacturing in New York and other major American cities: one claims that this decline has closed off job opportunities for blacks that were available for ealier immigrants who lacked skills and education; the other emphasizes globalization - the movement of manufacturing jobs offshore to areas with lower labour costs. But Roger Waldinger shows that these explanations do t fit the facts. Instead, he points out that a previously overlooked factor - population change - and the rapid exodus of white New Yorkers created vacancies for mirity workers up and down the job ladder. Ethnic succession generated openings both in declining industries, where the outward seepage of whites outpaced the rate of job erosion, and in growth industries, where whites poured out of bottom-level positions even as demand for low-level workers increased. But this process yielded few dividends for blacks, who saw their share of the many low-skilled jobs steadily decline. Instead, advantage went to the immigrants, who exploited these opportunities by expanding their ecomic base. Waldinger explains these disturbing facts by viewing employment as a queuing process, with the good jobs at the top of the job ladder and the poor ones at the bottom. As ecomic growth pulls the topmost ethnic group up the ladder, lower-ranking groups seize the chance to fill the niches left vacant. Immigrants, remembering conditions in the societies they just left, are eager to take up the lower-level jobs that natives will longer do. By contrast, African-Americans, who came to a city a generation ago, have job aspirations similar to those of whites. But the niches they have carved out, primarily in the public sector, require skills that the least educated members of their community do t have. Black networks longer provide connections to the lower-level jobs, and relative to the newcomers, employers find unskilled blacks to be much less satisfactory recruits. The result is that a certain number of well-educated blacks have good middle-class jobs, but many of the less educated have fallen back into an underclass. Grim as this analysis is, it points to a deeper understanding of America's most serious social problem and offers fresh approaches to attacking it.
- Author BiographyRoger Waldinger is Professor of Sociology, University of California at Los Angeles.
- Author(s)Roger Waldinger
- PublisherHarvard University Press
- Date of Publication08/10/1999
- SubjectSociology & Anthropology: Professional
- Place of PublicationCambridge, Mass
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintHarvard University Press
- Content Note26 line illustrations, 14 tables
- Weight458 g
- Width144 mm
- Height225 mm
- Spine22 mm
- Format DetailsTrade paperback (US)
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