Asian American youth in poverty: Benefits and limitations of ethnic networks in postsecondary and labor force options

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Along with the increase and demographic shift of contemporary immigrant populations, there has been a reemergence of research and debate on immigrant adaptation and assimilation theories. Under what contexts newly arriving immigrants actually adopt or resist assimilation as a means of achieving social mobility is one of the more important empirical questions raised. In the midst of this important debate, studies have consistently underscored the benefits of coethnic enclaves and networks as important means of achieving economic mobility for immigrants and their secondgeneration children. Despite the significance of ethnic networks, however, there is little understanding of how these networks may also be limited, and the ways in which they intersect with class, race, and school contexts to reproduce inequality. Based on a comparative study of high-and lowachieving Korean American youths in New York City public schools, this article examines under what contexts ethnic networks become beneficial and/or limiting, particularly as they relate to postsecondary and labor force options for second-generation children. Students in both groups benefited from ethnic networks; however, depending on their socioeconomic backgrounds and schooling contexts, students gained different educational resources and achieve varied postsecondary outcomes. I highlight the salience of class and argue that, although there is a substantial number of immigrants who have been absorbed into ethnic economy, there is also a wide class variability across and within immigrant groups, leading to important questions about how ethnic networks may be beneficial, limited, or even exploitive depending on changing contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-143
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Education for Students Placed at Risk
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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