Immigrant Networks in New Urban Spaces: Gender and Social Integration: Gendered Immigrant Networks in New Urban Spaces


Avenarius, Christine B. 2012. “Immigrant Networks in New Urban Spaces: Gender and Social Integration: Gendered Immigrant Networks in New Urban Spaces.” International Migration 50 (5): 25–55. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2435.2009.00511.x.

Author: Christine B. Avenarius


This article investigates how dispersed settlement in areas of urban sprawl affects the structure of personal networks that in turn influences the likelihood of social integration among male and female immigrants from Taiwan. Settlement in the deconcentrated spaces that currently constitute the new urban spaces of U.S. metropolitan areas potentially offers more opportunities to interact with ethnically diverse people than the traditional ethnic enclaves of inner cities. However, these spatial structures also increase dependency on cars and road systems. Findings from ethnographic fieldwork in Orange County, California, show that the social networks of affluent first generation immigrants from Taiwan are not comparable to the densely knit broadly based ties linking neighbors and kin group members traditionally attributed to immigrants.

Instead, the social networks of immigrants with high levels of human and economic capital are based on loosely bounded, sparsely knit, and dynamic specialized ties. At the local level networks involve few ties to extended relatives, but a substantial amount of relationships with former classmates and members of recreational associations. However, despite good English skills and employment in diverse workplaces the number of interactions with nonimmigrants outside of work and school environments is rather small.

These circumstances are experienced differently by men and women. Female immigrants consider living in the deconcentrated spaces of master-plan communities beneficial for achieving personal contentment. They welcome the changed conditions for social interaction and enjoy the decrease in network size and frequency of contacts that result in less obligations and responsibilities compared to life back in their country of origin. Male immigrants, however, mourn the loss of opportunities to gain reputation and social recognition. They would prefer to live in areas with close spatial proximity of immigrant residences. These gendered evaluations further affect the likelihood of social integration for first generation immigrants.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Gender, Women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Taiwan

Year: 2012

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