Global Issues in Sociology
Global Issues in Sociology SOC 4500
Popular in Course
Popular in Sociology
Kurtis Jones Jr.
verified elite notetaker
Kurtis Jones Jr.
verified elite notetaker
verified elite notetaker
verified elite notetaker
Miss Sabina Grimes
verified elite notetaker
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Travelling Beyond Local Cultures Martin Albrow Globalization Culture and Locality In the last thirty years transformations ofindustrial organization in the advanced soci eties accompanied by the acceptance of the ideas of posteindustrialism and post modernity mean that the problem setting for community analysis has shifted In the last decade globalization theory has brought issues of time space and terri torial organization into the centre of the frame ofargumcnt We have to look again at the way social relations are tied to place and re examinc issues of locality and culture Our data about people in one small area suggest that locality has a much less absolute salience for individuals and social relations than older paradigms of research allow They live in a global city London which has already been the focus for much globalization research However1 research has largely focused on links with interna tional nance on urban development and on the more emphatically international lifestyles of jet setters and yuppies Seant attention has been paid to everyday life Thus Knight and Gappert s useful volume on cities in a global society contains twentyethrce papers but not one considers everyday life in the city Yet the volume already implies quite different patterns of living for those caught up in global procesSes and takes us far outside notions of locality as the boundary for meaning ful social relations Yet the theorization of everyday life under global conditions effectively introduces a range of considerations which takes us beyond ideas of post modernity and post industrialism These ideas evolved out ofcarlier mass society concerns and the notion of the fragmentation ofindustrial society To that extent post modernity theory lent credence to the idea of a dissolution of concepts without effectively advocating an alternative frame Indeed very often the claim was implicit that the search for an alter native was a doomed project from the beginning Globalization theory on the other hand does commit itself to propositions about the trajectory ofsocial change which do not envisage a collapse into chaos or a mean ingless juxtaposition ofinnumerable and incommensurable vicwpoints It puts on the agenda a reeasting of the whole range ofsociological concepts which were forged for the period of nation state sociology We do not haVc to begin from scratch For our purposes in this chapter we can draw on a number of core propositions about globalization based on earlier work Original publication details Excerpted from Martin Albrow Travelling Beyond Local Culturesquot in John Eade ed Living Lhe Global City Globalization as a Local Process Routledge I997 pp 43 5 Reprinted by permission olTaylor amp Francis Books Ltd I34 EXPERIENCING GLOBALIZATION In exploring their relevance for local social relations we will nd that we develop them Further and discover the need to advance additional ones Our starting points to which we will return are 1 The values informing daily behaviour for many groups in contemporary society relate to real or imagined material states of the globe and its inhabitants lolmlirm Images information and commodities from any part of the earth may be avail able anywhere and anytime for everrincreasing numbers of people worldwide while the consequences of worldwide forces and events impinge on local lives at any time globality 3 Information and communication technology now make it possible to maintain social relationships on the basis ot direct interaction over any distance across the globe time space cmnprasxirm 4 Worldwide institutional arrangements now permit mobility of people across national boundaries with the con dence that they can maintain their lifestyles and life routines wherever they are ditcmIeddirgy ls We could add to this lisr but for the moment it is suf cient to permit us to turn to our local studies and identify the patterns of social life which call out for new socioi logical conceptualizations Before doing so we ought to add that while these proptr sitions are associated with the general theory of globalization the extent to which they necessarily implicate the globe as a whole or require the unicity of the world is open to an argument which does not have to be resolved here in order to show their relevance for studies of local social relations Social and Cultural Spheres in an Inner London Locality The transformations of the last sixty years now make it dif cult to capture anything in London like the picture of locality you will nd in a study such as IIoggart s The paradigmatic equivalent of his account in empirical research was the work of Willmott and Young at the Institute of Community Studies in 1957 But they were capturing a world imminently dissolving The variety of possibilities now evident extend our conceptual capacities to the extreme They certainly burst the bounds of nation state sociology Our research on locality and globalization is based in the inner London borough ot Wandsworth south of the river west of centre formed from the amalgamation of seven or eight nineteenth century villages which give their names to the local areas within what is a largely continuous residential belt In terms of race polr tics headlines Wandsworlzh has led a quiet life in comparison with neighbouring Iambeth Its press image is mainly associated with the policies ol the Conservative controlled local council which has been known as the flagship authority of the Thatcher years for its advocacy of low local taxation contracting out of local services and the sale of council houses This image of tranquil continuity through change is maintained even for the area ofTooting which has a large Asian immigrant population Yet even a cursory visit suggests that the concept oflocal culture is unlikely to t new conditions Given that the task of reconceptualization and documenting new realities is long term I will not attempt to prejudge our ndings by a premature characterization of Tooting However if we turn to our respondents in Tooting and instead of seeking 7 TRAVELLING BEYOND LOCAL CULTURES I35 to t them to preigivcn sociological categories listen to their own references to locality culture and community we already detect the possibility of new cultural con gurations occupying the same territorial area Adopting an individualistic methodology as one strategy for penetrating the new social relations we can identify a range of responses which take us beyond the notion oflocal culture and community without suggesting any corollary ofanomie or social disorganization as the old conceptual frames tended to assume At this stage we are not offering a holistic account of social relations in this area of London but we can already say that globalization theory is going to allow us to interpret our respondents in a quite different way from older sociologies which focused on place rather than space True we can nd oldestablished locals benchmarks for analysis but if we let them speak the nuances ofa new age come through Take 73 year old Grace Angel who was born in Wandsworth and has lived in her house in Tooting for over fty years who met her husband when they carried stretchers for the injured during the air raids on London in the Second World War He is now disabled but she bene ts from the support of her own age group mainly white women who meet at a Day Centre three times a week She engages in all the traditional activities ofa settled life visiting family knitting and enjoying crafts She rarely leaves VVandsworth she enjoys the sense of community At the same time her life is not con ned by the locality She tells how she writes letters to France and the United States She also wrote to Terry Waite all the time he was held hostage and to his wife I actually got a letter from him thanking me for my support Into her local frame enters a mass media symbol of the conflict between the West and militant Islam We have to ask where that ts in with the concept of local culture not simply an ephemeral image cast on a screen as diversion or even information but a global gure who becomes a personal correspondent Mrs Angel would hardly recognize the image of Tooting another resident pro vides True Reginald Scrivens only moved to Tooting seventeen years ago but he has lived in London for thirty two years and works in a City bank He reads the broadsheet Conservative newspapers has a drink with his colleagues after work and watches television with his wife in the evening They don t socialize locally and he doesn t enjoy living in Tooting any more It s very mixed these days with the Asians and the blacks and a lot of the area is quite run down It s not a nice place to walk through There isn t any real community either I still know a few people along my street but most of the people I used to know moved out because Tooting got so bad Families come and go Neighbours don t care about each other any more The foreigners all stick together though I ll say this about them 7 they look after their own That s more than you can say about most of our lot these days His wife goes to local shops He goes to a local church They are not going to move It is an easy journey to work in Central London Mr Scrivens lives in Tooting but is alienated from it or rather Tooting falls short Of an image ofcommunity which he thinks it might have had or ought to have Yet it still is convenient enough to remain there Convenience however can also combine With indifference Fortyfouryear old Ted North came to Tooting from Yorkshire ten years ago and has worked as a traf c warden ever since feels settled belongs to I 36 EXPERIENCING GLOBALIZATION the local Conservative club rarely goes out of the area but doesn t really notice whether there is a community as such A Londoner who moved to Tooting three years ago at the age onZ and became a postman Gary Upton is even more detached Locality isn t all that important to me but I don t really feel affected by the rest of the world either I have my life to lead and I ll lead it wherever I am Even a much older man Harry Carter a 62 vear old taxi driver who has lived in Tooting for twenty two years would move anywhere and feels community spirit has totally disappeared almost everywhere in London For him globalization is common sense and obviously happening And if you are a young unemployed man like Dean Garrett born in Tooting the year Harry arrived living with your girlfriend and her parents you are used to the Asians because you were brought up with them but stick with your own You stay in Tooting and use its library and shops but not because of community feeling This indifference to place however can be transvalued into a positive desire for constant mobility and into an estimation of locality as a consumer good Keith Bennett is 25 works in a shop and came to Tooting six months ago He has trav elled through the United States his mother lives abroad he has completed a degree reckons travel has changed his life and would love to go all over the world He has never had a sense of community but values Tooting because it s got a mixed feel it helps to make people aware of other people it s close enough to fun places like Brixton and Streatham and it s easy to get into town from here He is white but lives with an Asian family and has an Asian girlfriend His Asian friends tell him that they have a good community feel among other Asians but not with the whitesquot For an older widow living alone like 77 yearold Agnes Cooper the issues ofculture and community cannot be transvalued into spectacle as they are with Keith She responds directly to their messages The Asians are close knit with no room for outsiders and she was plainly ba lcd by a Sikh who could not under stand the meaning ofhot cross buns at Easter when she tried to explain them to him She has lived for fourteen years in Tooting and her social network and activity are as local as Grace Angel s but she notices a lack oftrue community feeling She remarked on people buying properties in the area just for resale Eight white residents ofTooting each one with a difl39Erent orientation to the local area easily generalized into a different type potentially raising a series ofconeeptual distinctions which render the question of the presence or absence of local community simplistic This question makes more sense in the case of our older respondents but their answers are quite different For Grace it is there Agnes is not sure for Reginald it has gone and for Harry it went a long time ago everywhere in London Ted is younger than them and came later He does not know whether com munity is there and is unconcerned as he gets on with his local life Our three young men have dif iErent responses again As with Ted community has lost salience and locality has become facility Globalist Keith nds Tooting a useful point from which to enjoy the world for Gary its generalizable qualities are what counts it could be anywhere and that suits him while for Dean it s a question of necessity rather than values There is nowhere else to go TRAVELLING BEYOND LOCAL CULTURES 3937 At one time a sociologist might have held that these were all different perspec tives on the same phenomenon partial points of view which could be composited into the social reality of Tooting Later these views would haVe been held to justify a sociological relativism perspectives which simply co existed without any way of reconciling them A later post modernist view would nd in them a fragmented dis located reality There is another at least one alternative The Deans co exist with the Agneses the Reginalds with the Keiths Ifthey do not meet each other at least they encounter many others who are similar These people inhabit co exisnng social spheres coeval and overlapping in space but with fundamentally different horizons and timespans The reality of Tooting is constituted by the intermeshing and interrelating of these spheres Grace s community is no more the authentic original Tooting than is Ted s There is an additional vital point Apart from Grace these white Tooting residents are all immigrants they all moved into the area respectively seventeen ten three twenty two a half and fourteen years ago It is an area which is always on the move and in that sense in and outimigration is normal Yet this does not preclude a Sense of the other in Tooting namely the Asians often perceived as holding together as constituting a community in the sense that the whites are not To that extent we can see the Asian community acquires in the eyes of the whites the qualities which they consider themselves to have lost Instead ofseeking to assimi late the incoming ethnic group which in any case has lived there longer than them whites like Keith with Asian friends and living in an Asian family may seek to be assimilated themselves We may then be tempted to apply the concept oflocal culture not to the white residents but to the Asians Our oldest Asian respondent Naranjan is 65 years old and has lived in Tooting for nineteen years She came from Tanzania but met her husband in India and nearly all her family live there apart from sons who live just outside London She is in constant touch with her family in India and a sister in New York usually by letter and returns to India every year Yet she and her husband are fond of Germany and Switzerland and she enjoys travelling Otherwise she is very busy locally sings in her temple attends the elderly day centre and has friends in all ethnic groups Here the point which comes through strongly is that Indian culture is as much a family culture as a local one Religious occasions encourage the maintenance offamily ties across space The disembedding Giddens associates with modernity effectively sustains pre modern kin relations and permits a form of reverse colonization The same is the case with a much younger Pakistani woman Zubdha aged 26 born in Bradford who came to Tooting three years ago She is married and works in a social agency maintains constant touch by telephone with family in Pakistan and visited over 120 friends and relatives there earlier in the year However she likes Tooting as a place where she is comfortable with her ethnic culture can buy halal meat has plenty of friends and no wish to leave For the white population looking in from the outside the Asians in Tooting appear to constitute a community From the inside the orientations are varied One thing is clear racial segregation is apparent to both sides but its meaning varies from person to person In some cases it is a matter of feeling safer rather than any deep identi cation with an ethnic group Such was the case with a 28 year old shop owner born in Birmingham who moved to Tooting four years ago and who has no contact With aunts and uncles in lndia His experience in both Birmingham and Tooting was that Asian youths stuck together for safety but he feels a sense of community in I 38 EXPERIENCING GLOBALIZATION Tooting too which does not extend to cover blacks and whites He thinks he will stay in Tooting so that his daughter can settle in somewhere Settling seems a matter of contingent considerations rather than anything deeper A much more recent newcomer is Ajit also 28 years old who came to Tooting from Delhi three years ago and brought his wife but has broken off relations with his family in India He has set up a small business and his contacts are other busii nessmen He notices no real community but has no intention of returning to India either He sees signs of racial barriers breaking down for young people and consid ers this process as providing hope for the future These hopes might be borne out by the experience of 18yearold Kuldeep who helps in his parents shop He came to Britain from Bombay with them six years ago and says that he could not now return to India because he feels too English He considers most white people to be very open but his friends are almost all Asian and they spend a lot of time together out in clubs or playing football The same questioning of his Indian identity arises for a 35 year old Asian phar macist Kishor who was born in East Africa and has lived in Tooting for ten years He finds no real community and strong racial segregation but he apprc iates Tooting for its convenient location for work and his sports club He has distant cousins in the United States whom he occasionally calls and when he has a holiday he usually goes to Portugal In sum our Asian respondents have orientations to community as varied as those of the whites They all acknowledge the barriers between Asian and white but their orientations to other Asians are not as the whites imagine For a start the most intense felt identi cation with the Asian community comes from women and their local involvements are matched by the strength of their ties with the sub continent The men have a more instrumental relationship with other Asians one of mutual pro tection and business opportunity but not one which leads them to celebrate cultural difference Out ofthese interviews emerge both real differences in involvement in local culture and quite re ned conscious distinctions about the nature of community lVIost obseri vant of all is possibly a Jamaicanborn black community worker Michael who has lived with his parents in Tooting for eighteen years and works in Battersea the other side of Wandsworth For him nothing happens in Tooting which could be called community life He contrasts it with Battersea but even there what goes on he attrilr utes to boredom rather than real involvement His own friends are spread across London and everything he does revolves around the telephone He calls Jamaica and the United States every week and has been back to Jamaica every year for the last ten years He sees Britain as just another American state but does not believe that the world is becoming a smaller place Somehow for him the very strength of his Caribbean ties and the barriers coming down between people also push other people away New Concepts for LocalGlobal Conditions We have cited individual cases at some length not to con rm a general picture nor to nd a common thread Indeed it would be possible to construct a different general type of orientation to living in the global city for each of our respondents Equally we are not concerned to identify where some are right and others wrong Our initial hypothesic is that each may be right for his or her own circumstances and social network TRAVELLING BEYOND LOCAL CULTURES l39 Grace Angel and Naranian both nd active lives in a local community one white the other Asian and we have no reason to think that these are not reliable respon dents It is just that their worlds cocxist without impinging on each other Similarly the much travelled Keith Bennett and Michael the Jamaican community worker agree that there is no community life in Tooting Each finds it a convenient base for a London life and links with the rest of the world But just because they agree there is no reason to take their view to be of more weight than anyone else s Let us suppose that this is not a matter of perspectives rather that our interviews represent different realities linked by their co e 39istence in a locality but not thereby creating a local culture or community If that were the case the local area of Tooting would be characterized by a copresent diversity of lifestyles and social con gura tions This diversity would then constitute the reality not some average of a set of dispersed readings of the same phenomenon Yet this diversity would not represent chaos Broadly there is no sense from our interviews ofa collapsing world even if there is regret for a world that is past Each respondent makes sense of a situation each relating in a different way to the local area Certainly there is no sense ofa Tooting community which comprises the popu lation of the local area Nor even is there a con guration in Elias sense except in so far as there is substantial agreement on the importance of the ethnic divide between whites and Asians Yet ethnicity provides only one of the conditions for the lives of our respondents and in no sense creates an overall framework in the way Elias and Scotson s establishec and outsiders model encapsulates and coiordinates the lives of the inhabitants of Winston Parva In other words our material is suggestive of a different order of things which requires different conceptualizations from those available even only twenty years ago Note the word suggestive we are talking about empirical possibilities Their realization is not yet demonstrated by these few interviews Further research will need to adopt a variety of methodologies and take account of39 contextual factors such as the possible effects of local state policies before it can conclude that the globalized locality exists in Tooting Moreover the impact of any iture political mobilization can never be discounted None the less we have enough evidence to warrant the close examination of an alternative theoretical framework for future research We can make sense ofthese interviews by drawing on globalization theory In par ticular by taking account of the different time horizons and spatial extent of our respondents social networks we can specify the new elements of regularly constituted social relations in a locality in a global city Let us now advance four new proposi tions about locality paralleling the four on globalization we set out above 1 The locality can sustain as much globalist sentiment as there are Sources ofinfor mation for and partners in making sense of worldwide events A locality can exhibit the traces of world events cg the expulsion of East African Asians which remove any feeling of separation from the wider world 3 The networks of individuals in a locality can extend as far as their resources and will to use the communications at their disposal Time space compression allows the maintenanCe of kin relations with India or Jamaica as much as with Birmingham or Brentford 4 The resources and facilities of a locality may link it to globally institutionalized practices It is convenient both to be there if you want to use the products of global culture and as good as anywhere else as a base from which to travel As to I40 EXPERIENClNG GLOSALIZATION such both transients and permanent residents can equally make a life which is open to the world Let us now bring thcsc Your propositions about a gJQbalizcd kiwnlity togczthcr In sum they suggest the possibility that individuals with very different lifestyles and social ncrworks can live in close proximity without unmward interference with each other There is an old community for sotnc for others there is a new sit for a communiry which draws its culture from India For some 39I oming is a setting for peer group lcisurc activity for othch it providcs a place to sleep and access to London It can be a 3pcctaclc for game for others the anticipation of a better more multicultural community 39 Globalization Immigration and Changing Social Relations in US Cities GLENDA LAWS ABSTRACT The current process Olglobalization with deep historical roots has hurl a significant impact on social problems in US cities My focus is the links between globalization immigration and urban social relations At the heart ul this linkage is an economic restructuring across societies and in the US city that has potent social consequences for immigrant populations Such people induced to migrate by changing economic circumstances incl growing ghettoizaiion isolation and cultural antipathics in their new settings In the new globality immigrant populations arc commonly fingered as the other the invading and ominous people threatening time tater social norms and economic principlm Globalization has a social and cultural impact Some people including investors who on the lives of various social groups in several have seen their profits grow and workch who different waysi it is not simply an economic have been employed because of expanding process business opportunities have benefited from Glenda Laws was cm 113506361 pm xsor of geography at the Pt39nnsylyania Slaw University Site was an urban social geographer with an interest in marginalize d populations and political struggles wound their wellbeing Throughout her area Dr Luwsfotfuseci on among others the39 mentally ill thc homeless tinpom immigrant woman and 25w eld wly She war intermich in social and economic restructuring and magically ltc spatial impit catiuns of restructuring for those39 mmginalizt tl group s in urban arcm Dr Laws dial injunc 1996 at agt 3 Laws Glenda 99 7 Globalization immigratiom and changing social relations in US Cities The Annals ofthe American Academy of Political and Social Science Volume 558Q 104 Reprinted by permission ol Sage Publications inc 201 202 PART III the growth of global markets while others have not Consequently relations between people living and working in US cities have changed during the latest round of global restructuring Immigrant groups have been particularly affected That is because in many respects immigrants and immigration levels are directly related to the globalization of the economy People for the most part migrate in search of economic opportunities for example work or investments and as the economy has globalized people frotn around the world find that opportunities attractive to them might well cross international boundaries Once arrived at their destination however immi grants often experience various forms of seg regation Before turning to a discussion of some of the ways globalization has con tributed to the economic social political and spatial segregation of immigrants I want to start with several preliminary observations First despite much attention being given to the idea of globalization as if it were a recent phenomenon it would be naive to suggest that US cities have only recently entered a global political economy Ever since the first European settlements cities in North America have been linked to a greater or lesser degree to the machinations of a global system The term globalization as it is currently used sug gests that linkages between places around the world are now more numerous and more intense than hitherto and that supranational organizations are assuming an evergreater importance In the context ofeconomic activ ity this involves the growth over the last few decades of multinational corporations the expansion of international capital markets and related changes in patterns of interna tional trade Each of these elements of global ization however has a history tneasured in centuries rather than decades Because of its long historical antecedents perhaps it is best to think of the current round of globalization in its economic political and sociocultural guise as a round of qualitatively different international relations usefully characterized Immigration Globalization and Transnationalism by jan Nederveen Pieterse Featherstone and Lash 1995 p 46 as inherently lluid indeter minate and openended Although these new and multiple forms of global interdependence have implications for localities for example US cities and their suburbs the global and the local or global ization and localization do not stand in sim ple opposition to one another Rather they are intimately related and it is not particularly useful to discuss either without the other Second we should note the importance of focusing upon the political and sociocultural dimensions of globalization in terms of both causes and effects We witness for example the growth of international governing bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank and ofadvocacy groups such as Amnesty International and the increasingly important role such organizations play in political deci sion tnaking and developtnents in the global economy Further in terms of sociocultural relations globalization involves the migration of people and customs In some instances large scale migrations have resulted in the loss or marginalization of some cultures as some immigrants come to dominate indigenous populations for example migrations from the so called Old to the New World under colonial expansions In other instances the immigrants themselves are ostracized and segregated in their new locations Such in fact is the situation in many US cities as the twentieth century draws to a close Transformations in the global political economy have had a significant impact on relations between residents of US cities Since the social problem of residential segre gation in US cities has been around for some time it is certainly not a product of the latest round of globalization Likewise it would be difficult to argue with any certainty that poverty among inner city residents is directly related to globalization or that violence directed at minority groups is an outcome of globalization processes However the form and function of segregation under globaliza 14 Globalization Immigration and Changing Social Relations in US Cities 203 tion might be changing We need to ask what role urban or local segregation plays in a global economy that seemingly increas ingly looks to supranational organizations We must however bear in mind that if glob alization could be used to explain everything its analytical value for understanding specific manifestations of social problems would need to be questioned Despite such caveats I do believe that transformations in the global political economy have had a signi cant impact on social problems in US cities and I hope to tease out some of these links in the ensuing discussion My focus here is on immi grants who have relocated as a result of chang ing conditions associated with globalization Although a comprehensive examination of this topic would include consideration of the conditions in the places from which immi grants move space does not permit coverage here 1 will therefore concentrate on the expe riences of and attitudes toward immigrants who have settled in the United States To organize what follows I begin by reviewing the links between globalization immigration and urban social relations Then at the risk of oversimplification I consider some of the economic social and political experiences of recent immigrants living in US cities Finally I will explore the implications of continued globalization for residents of US cities GLOBALIZATION IMMIGRATION AND URBAN SOCIAL RELATIONS In the contemporary global political economy some countries function as laborexporting nodes for both long and shortterm migrants while others act as laborimporting countries Saskia Sassen describes migration as a global labor supply system Sassen 1988 pp 31 36 that provides workers to both urban and rural labor markets in developed industrialized economies This implies that both capital and to a lesser extent labor are mobile on a global scale For both capital and labor a sentimen tal attachment to some geographic part of the world is not part of the global economic systemquot Thurow 1996 p 115 Of course many businesses especially small firms and people do find themselves attached whether by choice or circumstance to a particular place and as a result may find that they are not competitive in the global market At vari ous spatial scales whether international national or local some regions lose workers and capital investment while others gain Explanations for large scale movements of workers and their families between nation states are rooted in long and complex histories that surround the diffusion of capitalism Colonial expansions prior to World War I depended on such migrations between the Old and New Worlds With rapid economic growth since World War II immigrant workers from less developed countries have become an increasingly important component of the labor forCes of most developed countries Sassen describes current trends as follows Two features characterize labor migration the growing use of immigrant labor in the tertiary sector of developed countries and the growing use of foreign and native migrants in the secondary sector of developing countries Unlike other laborintensive components ol industrialized economies service jobs cannot easily be exported Thus the growing concentration of immigrant labor in the service sector of highly industrialized countries may be pointing to constraints in the historical transformation of the internationa division of labor insofar as most service job must be performed in situ This growing concentration of immigrant labor in servict jobs in developed countries can be viewed a the correlate of the export of manufacturing jobs to the Third Worltl Sassen 1998 p 53 At the local scale US cities along will their counterparts in other developet economies have played an important role it the global labor market The hierarchica organization of multinational corporation has designated some cities as headquarter 204 PART 11 locations that act as sites for leadership research and development and interaction with politicians These command points watch over the global empires of the largest corporations More routine functions like manufacturing have moved offshore taking with them many relatively wellpaid blue Collarjobs However the loss ofsome indeed many manufacturing jobs has not seen the eradication of low wage positions in US cities Although increasingly challenged by Japan and other Asian economies the postwar dominance of the US economy has created and continues to create incomes and con sumption opportunities that require mini mally paid positions The following description of the local social geography and economy of one neighborhood Lennox near the Los Angeles international airport captures the links between globalization and the lowewage workforce The proximity of the airport is not coinci dental Many immigrantsl were drawn by the lure of work in area hotels and restaurants the low wage service jobs now largely the domain of immigrants Indeed Lennox is a kind of late 20th century company town housing a Third W39orld servant class of maids waiters and others whose cheap labor sits tains an international transportation and tourism hub Me Donnell 1995 Left behind too are those manufacturing activities that can find a cheap enough labor force within the United States to make them competitive in the international market as well as those manufacturers who require a relatively skilled labor force that cannot as yet readily be found outside the developed economies Sweatshops and other institu tionalized forms of low wages then repre sent one way of maintaining competitiveness In addition those employed in the headquar ters offices of multinational corporations require support staff such as accounting and legal expertise clerical assistants and Immigration Globalization and Transnationalism janitorial services and this has created demands for a whole range of business and personal services That is multinational cor porations and the ancillary services that are generated in a region by their presence are very muclt dependent on a large interna tional labor market The domestic side of that labor market includes a significant number of immigrants Of course this is not an especially new development in the evolution of the US space economy In the first decade of the twentieth century nearly 88 million people moved from abroad to major US industrial cities This number translates into a rate of 104 immigrants for every 1000 people living in the United States Both the number and the rate fell off until the post World War 11 economic boom which created renewed demand for immigrant labor In addition Changes to immigration laws in 1965 resulted in higher levels of migration related to family reunification The new legislation also led to a change in the countries of origin of migrants from mainly European sites to regions in Central and South America and Asia Between 1981 and 1990 734 million immigrants entered at a rate of 31 per 1000 population Between 1991 and 1993 amid growing calls for a slowdown in immigration the rate had reached 48 per 1000 and some 371 million immigrants were admit ted In addition the Bureau of the Census estimates that there may be as many as 400 million undocumented immigrants Bureau ofThe Census 1995 In 1994 87 percent of the US population was foreign born the majority of whom live in cities More than 18 million foreign born individuals lived in metropolitan areas in 1990 while only 13 million resided in nonmctropolitan areas Migrants change the character of the places in which they settle They establish businesses invest in housing and other aspects of neighborhood infrastructure cele brate Cultural festivals and bring with them l4 Globalization Immigration and Changing Social Relations in US Cities 205 a variety of cultural practices Sometimes this multicultural aspect of migration is greeted enthusiastically by host communities more often it is welcomed with ambivalence How ever it takes only the most casual attention to the popular media to realize that there is a groundswell of opposition to continued immigration at what is popularly perceived to be a large scale Despite this opposition there remains a persistent demand for both legal and illegal migrant labor Undocumented immigrants are able to find work in US cities as local manufacturers meet the demand for cheaply produced goods The products of sweatshops find markets in the United States And these markets are not only found among struggling small businesses or in the informal economy Large retailers purchase knowingly or otherwise and then sell clothing prodttced by illegal aliens in Los Angeles sweatshops Swoboda and Pressler 1995 Furthermore affluence in the United States has created a demand among relatively well off families for housekeepers and gardeners many of whom are immigrants Natali 1991 Rural regions too exhibit a dependence on an imported peasantryquot Schlosser 1993 p 80 Domestic labor markets then offer opportunities for global migrants even while simultaneously there is an almost continuous call for immigration reform Despite such calls there are ofcourse many supporters of liberal immigration policies Advocacy groups are joined by business interests that see migrant labor as one means of maintaining competitiveness A recent advertisement on the Internet asked Will immigration dam age your business and argued that a reduc tion in the number of employment based immigrants and restrictions on the length of time temporary workers could stay in the country would be problematic for businesses Tensions between those who sttpport and those who oppose immigration is indicative of how globalization affects relations between urban residents Sassen in a study of the global city examines the increasing social polarization evident in New York City London and Tokyo as economic restructuring not only widens the income gap between rich and poor but also accentuates the contrasts between the gentrified commercial and residential settings ttsed by the most privileged ttrban residents and the sweatshops and crowded houses where poor people work and live Sassen 1991 She demonstrates that globalization has invoked not only new economic geogra phies but also new social geographies Spatial segregation of different social groups has persisted under globalization even at the same time that it has promoted international interetlmic and interracial contacts through global migration Increasing social polariza tion is a question of socialjustice and it begs the questions of how some groups are privi leged by social processes and how others might be disadvantaged by those same processes Young 1992 In what follows I will focus primarily on discussions of the economic experiences of immigrants based on their labor force attach ment then I will turn to a consideration of some sociocultural experiences including the assimilation versus multiculturalism debate and the violence that sometimes arises from intolerance of cultural difference I also con sider the political powerlessness of immi grants To illustrate the discussion I draw upon popular sources especially reports front newspapers because these are the sites from which many people gather information to develop their opinions about the merits of or problems associated with immigration policy and immigrants Economic Segregation Labor Market Positions and Experiences Economic segregation of immigrants refers to the fact that many simply do not have access to the same resources as the US bom I 206 PARTIII 39 390 39 LP population One of the most important deter minants of both individual and household resources is the positions that workers hold in labor markets Occupational and sectoral concentrations mean that some groups of immigrants receive on average very low wages Income levels clearly have implications for opportunities and experiences outside the workplace such as housing health care and leisure For both advocates and then the links between immigration and domestic labor markets are critical Opponents suggest that by accepting low wages because they are often high compared with those that immigrants received in their home countries immigrants have two import ant potential impacts on local labor markets First wage rates are driven down Second immigrants are employed in jobs that would otherwise be filled by unskilled or low skilled USborn workers For itnmigrants who had been in the United States for less than five years in 1990 average wages were altnost 32 below those of USborn workers Bor jas 1995 Fix Passel and Zimmertnann 1996 It may seem unclear why immigrants should be castigated for the unfairness of this situation if we assume that employers should pay fair and reasonable wages to all workers regardless of their immigrant status The sweatshop conditions in which many immigrant workers find themselves are also indicative of the intensity of exploitation found in some urban areas On 2 August 199 5 a raid on a factory in El Monte California exposed a workshop that held immigrant workers in slave labor conditions inside a barbed wire compound and forced them to work seven days a week for as little as 50 cents an hourquot2 lit February 1996 the factory s operators pleaded guilty to a nttmber of charges including indentured servitude In this particular case the majority of workers were descrihed as illegal aliens bttt a suit filed in April 1996 claimed that the operators were paying legal Latino immigrant workers and T 39 quot only 163 per hour for as many as thirteen hours ofwork per day in another two factories in Los Angeles3 Textile and clothing sweat shops Seem to be especially exploitative in their treatment of workers and important women At least part of the explanation for the atrocious conditions such workers fitid them selves in must relate to the erosion of organ ized labor with respect to its important 39 C role C39 quot ion has seen many textile activities move offshore There has been a parallel decline in the number of unionized employees The Garment Vorkers Unions suffered a serious membership loss from 314000 members in 1979 down to 133000 in 19934 Unions need for the sake of all workers to ensure that foreignborn work ers are paid wages equal to those of US born employees In September 1995 a letter to the editor of the New York Times by the president of the National Association of Manufacturers reveals an interesting business perspective on the links between attitudes toward immigration and the structure of labor markets American manufacturing no longer has an inter est in maintaining a mass influx of unskilled lowwage immigrants Vhilc a large number of unskilled laborers helped fuel the Industrial Revolution the technology driven plants and offices of today s competitive global economy require the expertise of skilled workers The National Association of Manufacturers is interested in the immigration issue but only to maintain the employment based immigration that provides American companies with the essential technical expertise in short supply in the United States The shortage of available expert workers is a growing conceni of American business The distinction drawn here between unskilled and expert workers means that Schlosser s quotimported peasantry Schlosser 1993 p 30 is less valued than the class of high tech itinerants wandering the globequot Helm 1993 Interestingly the representative of the National 1 Globalization Immigration and Changing Social Relations in US Cities 207 Association of Manufacturers does not note that the service and agricultural sectors seemingly still rely on lowskilled immigrants Lobbyists for the agriculture industry for example recently sought federal legislation that would have granted visas to 250000 tem porary foreign farm workersquot Furthermore this perspective does not help us tinder stand the persistence of sweatshop forms of manufacturing in those areas that are not so much technology driven as they are labor intensive Iris Marion Young argues that exploitm tion in the U5 wage labor market may be at its most extreme in the ease of the menial work performed by members especially those classified as mirtorities from the socalled new service class Young 1992 Newspaper reports suggest that migrant workers some times unaware of their legal rights are espe cially susceptible to poor treatment For example in january 1996 the Service Employees international Union charged that three immigrant workers were Cheated out of wages to which they were entitled by a con tractor with the Massachusetts Bay Trans portation Authority The landscape and property management contractor was accused of claiming that the three full time workers werel part time employees to avoid paying prevailing wages Lewis 1996 Some immigrants simply cannot find away into the labor market especially the legal market and constitute part of the care gory of people Young describes as suffering 7mm marginalization they are people the iystem of labor cannot or will not usequot Young 1992 p53 Exclusion from the labor 39oree then leads to deprivation in a number of treats of everyday life since a life of poverty loes not allow individuals to find adequate musing health care and other resources for ltemselves and their families This situation 35 been a cause of some of the most heated tolitical debates over the last decade or so mmigrants are aecusod of burdening an already overstretched welfare system in all ing upon public asgistance programs for basic goods and services Although illegal immi grants are especially vulnerable to such accu sations w the Emit immigrant rhetoric used tends to extend the debate to all foreigners At times this demands that legal immigrantz be denied Social Security and other benefits unless they take out US citizenship But is it clear that immigrants are as much of a drain on public assistance as might be thought According to George Borjas the rela tive position of immigrants in the US econ omy deteriorated between 1970 and 1990 During those two decades the percentage of immigrants receiving welfare increased from less than 6 to just Over 9 Bojras 1995 important these figures reveal that more than 90 of immigrants do not receive welfare Fix Passel and Zimmermann further note that immigrantg use welfare programs at about the same rate as tJShorn residents although there may be significantly higher usage among particular subsets of immigrants such as refugees and elderly people Pix Passel and Zimmermann lQQ Wages for immigrants have not kept up with those of USborn workers Nhet cas in 1970 immigrants and US born workers were on average receivng almost equal wages the wage differential in 1990 showed immigrants earning more than 15 less than the USboi n Perhaps the growing visibility of the poverty experi enced by some segments of the immigrant population over the last two decades might account for some of the opposition to eontin tied migration The degree to which immi grants might be a drain on a particular pool of resources however really depends on the spatial scale ol39 analysis being cliseus sed Researchers at the Urban institute in Washington DC argue for example that while immigrants generate a net fiscal sur plus the bulk ofthe taxes they pay are federal while the obligations for providing them 208 PART tn services remains with local and state govern ments Hence in some communities immi grants generate a net deficit at the local levelquot Fix and Passel 1994 That is in the overall operation of the US economy immigrants are a positive force however in particular com munities and neighborhoods immigraan might draw upon public resources more heav ily than USborn residents do Naturally the restructuring of the US economy as noted in the letter from the rep resentative of the ntanul acturers association cited earlier has created demands for highly skilled immigrant labor The latest cohorts of immigrants tend to be more highly edit cated than either earlier immigrants or US born residents of comparable age7 In 1994 147012 employment based immigrants were admitted to the United States More than 40000 of these were classified as prior ity workers or professionals with advanced degrees Bureau of the Census 1995 While there is evidence that these workers do rela tively well when it comes to wages in sotne cases even highly skilled immigrant workers find themselves in exploitative situations One L05 Angeles Times report describes the creation of high technology sweatshops staffed by skilled and cheap program mersquot from abroad Legions of program mers many working on dubious visas are hacking away right now in cheap motel rooms guarded hideaways and corporate computer centers throughout America The relationships to globalization are made explicit in the following description These new high tech itinerants wandering the globe in search of work are mirrored by a new breed ofwork wandering the globe in search of cheap labor Linked to the United States by satellite and electronic mail often backed by government subsidies overseas workers are providing quality programming at prices far below what it would cost here Helm 1993 Despite their very high skill levels then foreign programmers often enter the United Immigration Globalization and Transnationalism States on short term visas to be paid less than the prevailing wage Opponents have criticized the immigrants saying they lower wages but at least one anti immigrant group has placed the blame on the corporations that allow their contractors to pay these low wages Such a strategy places pressure on US firms to pay immigrant workers at prevailing rates so that they are not as competitive with local workers The longer immigrants reside in the United States the better their wages and labor market positions are likely to be Immigrant labor markets are however polarized between the low wages of the ttnskilled who often find work only through informal contacts and the highly paid positions held by inmigrating individuals whose professional skills are in high demand Both segments of the immigrant labor market are the target of efforts to restrict the number ofpcople migrating into this coun try But where does that leave immigrants who are outside the labor market and what then are their experiences SOCiospatial Segregation Accompanying globalization and the influx of migrants has been the growth in anti immigrant sentiment evident in any number of sources including print media talk radio and political campaign speeches By deliberate choice many of the phrases used here and elsewhere in this article come from newspa per reports it is such popttlar representations as these that fuel many of the debates about immigration and immigrants They are the sources from which many people gather infor mation to develop their opinions about the merits of or problems associated with immi gration policy and immigrants The extent of the necessity of migrant labor is not clear in the minds of many residents of the United States Opponents to large scale immigration complain that because of their supposed heavy use of pttblic services immigrants l4 Globalization immigration and Changing Social Relations in US Cities 209 especially though not exclusively undocu mented workers and their families are 21 bur den to an economy that already has too large a deficit At a lime when politicians grapple with how to balance budgets at federal state and local levels and when ttnetnployment among some segments of the working age population is very high questions are asked about why more people are allowed to enter the country Advocates of immigration argue that immigrants and their families contribute to both the cultural and economic develop ment of the nationg These debates about the relative merits of legal and illegal migration create tensions not only in federal policy debates but also in communities and neigh borhoods where there are large concentrations of immigrants One suburban Los Angeles resident told a Los Angcles Times reporter What we have in Southern California is not assitnilation it s annexation by Mexico McDonnell 1995 in another case a man charged with assaulting an immigrant reportedly told an arresting officer in Glendale California All of them should go back where they came from They take our homes ourjobs they btty up everything and look at me 1 was born here They don t belong here Ed Bond 1994 USborn and some immigrant resi dents argue that there are simply too many immigrants entering the country who have rejected assimilationist models and who favor a multicultural society that preserves cultural differences At the center of many debates is the resistance or inability of some immigrants to adopt English as their primary language in some cases immigrants especially older people and recently arrived migrants have limited English skills and thus there has been a growing trend for government ser vices to be provided in other languages For Example to avoid claims of antiHispanic bias the Chicago Housing Authority intro duccd a range of Spanish language services Opposition to this trend has resulted in greater visibility for the Englishonly movement Platt 1990 Tatalorich 1995 Crawford 1992 Supporters of English only initiatives such as Arizonians for Official English US English and English First lobby at various levels ofgovernment for leg islation that makes it illegal for governtnent services to be provided in another language By spring 1996 twenty three states had adopted some measure that makes English the official language and the Supreme Court agreed to take another look at the issue Biskupic 1996 Immigrant parents them selves at39c not always supportive of bilingual education For example a group of Latino parents in Los Angeles demanded that their children be placed in Englishonly classes because they want them to learn the domi nant language Pyle 1906 There is clear cviclencc that proficiency in English makes a difference to the range of job possibilities open to many immigrants This in turn can affect the types of housing and other social necessities that are available to immigrant workers and their families For the poorest immigrants housing is a major problem Los Angles Time writer David Freed describes cramped decaying hovelsquot that quothave slid into filthy disrepair over the yearsquot and that have crumbling walls arid dripping ceilingsquot These are the homes of some of the leastskilled immigrants front Asia Mexico and South America Freed 1989 t is notljust housing but also the com munities in which immigrants live that face problems when low wages predominate First generation inunigrants especially those with low skills and thus low wages olten find themselves in communities where basic infra structure is deterioratingThe situation in Washington Heights a neighborhood of Dominican immigrants in New York City exemplifies the material hardships faced by immigrant communities in tht midst of global affluence 210 PART tit Vashington Heights still has movie theaters and orists and other strong life signs gone from neighborhoods that have succumbed to urban blight but it also has wall mttrals that serve as memorials to young men killed in the neighborhood s drug wars Factory workers see jobs disappearing Small business owners are struggling to stay ahead of their rents and debts Community organizations built on publicly funded programs are groaning under govern ment budget cuts Neighborhood community centers are threatened with closures and curtailed hours Sum 1995 Related to the backlash against migrants are hate crimes in which they and their fami lies are subject to violence targeted at individ uals and the property they own Hate crimes are directed at people on the basis of their immigrant status race ethnicity or other attributes ascribed to a social group L A County Commission on Human Relations 1992 Cekola 1994 Barnum 1994 Bond 1991 1988 Specific statistical data are unre liable because of sen ous underreporting not only by the victims but also due to the reluc tance of some agencies who are supposed to be reporting to the federal government to do so fully Because of its racialized nature vio lence directed toward immigrants spills over onto US citizens and US born people who appear to be immigrants The National Asian Pacific American League Consortium released a report in 1995 that found that often Asian Americans were told to go home as if they were not Americansquot Sun 1995 Violence as many people have noted is an expression of perceived power relations Immigrants are aften the target ofabusc and violence because they are believed to be receiving more than hey deserve and at the expense of others Perpetrators for example might believe that mmigrants are taking jobs or using up 39esources to which they themselves are more ntitled This raises questions about percep ions of citizenship and what it means to be t citizen in one place but not in another Immigration Globalization and Transnationalism Immigrants and Politics Questions of Powerlessness Powerlessness refers to the lack of control people have over their day to day lives Young argues that the roots of powerlessness lie in positions held in the workforce Those people with the most privileged and respected posi tions are more powerful than those who are not in such positions Thus low skilled immi grants usually end up in jobs in which they have little authority Higherskilled immi grants who are admitted on temporary work visas may not have any power to changejobs regardless of how terrible the working condi tions in which they find themselves might be Social power can however be exercised in other areas of life such as in the electoral process Immigrants legal and otherwise low skilled or high skilled may find that they are relatively powerless in this respect For example a highly skilled immigrant engineer living in Silicon Valley may hold a position that is both privileged and much respected But that same engineer may not be able to vote on legislation that affects the lives of immi grants in the United States Thus this person is not powerless in the same sense as someone who is denied access to the labor market but is in other ways in this case in terms of vot ing rights Clearly to speak of immigrants and their experiences is not to imply a homoge neous group of people who will all have identical experiences Immigration as a social attribute intersects with many Others and race is perhaps the most critical factor There are attempts to extend voting rights to legal immigrants at least at the local level Within the Los Angeles Unified School District criticism developed around a proposal to allow parents regardless of their citizenship to vote in school board elections In Washington DC in 1992 a council member introduced a bill that would allow immigrants to vote in some circum stances In Takoman Park Maryland voting I4 Globalization Immigration and Changing Social Relations in US Cities 211 rights for legal immigrants were granted in the early 19905 Uones 1992 Sutner 1992 Kaiman 1991 Globalization that encourages migration across international boundaries may well diminish the powerlessness faced by some people Refugees for example who face polit ical persecution in their home country might well find their position improved on being granted residency in a US city The period during which their case is being heard how ever is one in which their lives are still out of their control Immigrants as a social group are clearly not totally powerless they have rela tively less power than some other groups Cutbacks in the welfare state may well be linked to the increasing integration of the US economy into the global economy and its loss of dominance The deficit is clearly a result of globalization and it is linked to all kinds of cutbacks in domestic policy CONCLUSION POLITICAL AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS Rhetorical and often in ammatory statements about immigration and immigrants often have little relationship to the reality of the situ ation The veracity of Claims from both oppo nents and advocates of immigration is not easily determined Despite the isolationist rhetoric of some conservative politicians in the United States it is unlikely that the coun try can uncouple itself from the global politi cal and economic structures that are now in place Globalization gives businesses the choice of importing workers or exporting employment and production to other coun tries Both create competition for US born workers living and working at home Both also encourage if not rely upon significant global migration Thus despite calls for reform read restrictionsquot of federal immi gration policy it is unlikely that the United States can close its doors to all foreigners even while immigration to the United States is not as open as some critics would claim While globalization is often defined in economic terms its social consequences are great This is not to imply that some global economic processes determine local social conditions without any reciprocity Around the world concern has been expressed about the extent to which global economic processes might be eradicating some local cultures However immigrants to US cities also mod ify the social and cultural geographies of the places in which they live and work just as more Obviously multinational cor porations and governments at all levels have developed strategies that simultaneously respond to and promote globalization so groups of less privileged people also develop such strategies Globalization has been described as a new spatial geopolitics Featherstone and Lash 1995 p 3 The new urban geopolitics of US cities pits localities against one another as they engage in bidding wars for foreign investment social groups against one another as each group attempts to stake out a territory of its own and businesses and the state against communities NOTES 1 See Commission on Global Governance Ottr Globe Neighborhood New York Oxford University Press 1995 2 Swoboda and Pressler US Targets Slave Labor Sweatshopquot 3 See 39 Garment Workers File Suit to Recover 18 Million in Wages Lox Angclcs Times 5 Apr I996 See also Diane Lewis Sweat shop Workers Get Early Holiday Gift Boston Globe 10 Dec 1995 chalsltops in New York City A Local Example of a Nationwide Prob lem Washington DC General Accounting Office 1989 Garment Industry Efforts to Address the Prevalence and Conditions ufchm shops Nashington DC General Accounting Office 1994 212 4 U1 0 N PART 1 Bureau of the Census Statistical Abstract tab 696 There is little doubt that globalization has eroded the power of unions in the United States Business can escape union demands by moving operations to a foreign location Increasing numbers of part time and other nonunion jobs have undermined traditional sources of union membership These trends have seen unions do a u turn on immigrant worker issue as an emerging generation of California labor leaders envisions poorly paid foreign born workers regardless of their immigrant status as becoming a booming new base of support of US unionsquot See Stuart Silverstcin Unions for a U turn on Immigrant Worker Issuequot 05 Angela Times 3 Nov 1994 Jerryjasinowski Vhat US Business Wants from Immigration Letter to the editor New York Times 13 Sept 1995 The proposal was rejected by the US House of Representatives on 21 Mar 1996 Foreignborn Residents Highest Percentage of US Population Since Vorld War II Census 1 Immigration Globalization and Transnationalism Bureau Reports Press release 0395 155 US Department of Commerce Bureau of the Census 25 Aug 1995 Advocacy groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform FAIR are espe cially visible opponents of immigration For details ofthe arguments against immigration see Roy Beck The Case Against Immigration The Moral Economic Social and Environmental Rea sonsfor Reducing Immigration Bad to Traditional Levels New York WW Norton 1993 See also V Briggs Jr Mass Immigration and the National Labor Market Armonk NY ME Sharpe 1992 P Brimelow quotTime to Rethink immigrationquot National Review 22June 1992 pp 30 46 Fora very brief overview of the benefits of immigra tion see Fix and Page Perspective on Immi gration The full study by Fix and Passel is reported in their Immigration and Immigrants Setting the Record Straight Washington DC Urban Institute 1995 quotHispancis and Housing Subsidiesquot editorial Chicago Tribune 3924 Apr 1996
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