Spatiality of Immigrant Social Networks and Their Impact on Residential Patterns
thesisposted on 2013-06-28, 00:00 authored by Kiljoong K. Kim
The purpose of this dissertation is to identify unique functions of immigrants’ social networks and organizational affiliations, the spatial aspects of their communities, and the ways in which these are implicated in their conceptualization of the American urban housing market. This project first examines the ways scholars discuss and define ethnic communities and how spatial arrangements are understood in the context of urban development. I argue that past discussions of immigrant assimilation and integration assumed that external influences and abandonment of ethnic components remain important—though undefined—elements of community formation and subsequent evolution. My position is that immigration and immigrant experiences are one of a number of processes that transform the relationship between accumulation of social capital and spatial arrangement of residency. I argue it is possible to claim that identity reflected in housing selection echoes both resources from ethnic community and participation in American consumption. I explore this possibility through a study of three immigrant groups in the Chicago metropolitan area. Based on a quantitative survey nested in another quantitative survey, findings suggest that concerns with both ethnic community formation and integration into American society relate closely and may simultaneously inform immigrants’ consumption behavior. Methodologically, these findings stress an increasing need for social scientists to explore causal linking between one’s ability to develop relationships across individuals and organizations and ecological conditions of their surroundings that shape an individual’s sense of communal membership.