Immigrant inclusion: structural, relational, and cultural dimensions across generations

Lucas Drouhot

Dominant theories of assimilation processes between immigrant and native populations have historically originated in the American context, from the theories of the Chicago School of Urban Sociology to Gordon’s canonical model and contemporary models offered by segmented assimilation and neo-assimilation theories. These dominant models’ foundations rest on purposive action embedded in institutional frameworks shaped by immigration law. While useful, they do not devote sufficient attention to two key theoretical dimensions: relational dynamics of mixing or segregating and their determinants, on the one hand, and cultural dimensions of belonging, on the other. Second, they are largely silent on the destiny of the third generation - the grandchildren of immigrants. Solo-authored and collaborative empirical efforts under this umbrella aim to: (1) use concepts and methodological tools from social stratification research to investigate structural (socioeconomic) assimilation among the second generation and third generation and, in doing so, establish dynamics of social reproduction versus racialization as they affect the structural attainment of the children and grandchildren of immigrants; (2) utilize large network data to study relational structures, such as friendships and marriage patterns, in the context of cultural diversity; and (3) examine belonging and identity among immigrant populations who have high structural attainment (e.g., immigrant professionals), but experience stigma resultant from their phenotype or religious identity by way of in-depth interviewing. The overall theoretical aim of these empirical efforts is to refine American-born theories of assimilation to formulate a theoretical model that is appropriate to the contexts of immigrant reception found in Western Europe, where immigration flows and diversification processes are more recent and qualitatively different than those in North America. 

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