Economic Sociology: A Systematic Inquiry

Princeton University Press
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The sociological study of economic activity has witnessed a significant resurgence. Recent texts have chronicled economic sociology's nineteenth-century origins while pointing to the importance of context and power in economic life, yet the field lacks a clear understanding of the role that concepts at different levels of abstraction play in its organization. Economic Sociology fills this critical gap by surveying the current state of the field while advancing a framework for further theoretical development.

Alejandro Portes examines economic sociology's principal assumptions, key explanatory concepts, and selected research sites. He argues that economic activity is embedded in social and cultural relations, but also that power and the unintended consequences of rational purposive action must be factored in when seeking to explain or predict economic behavior. Drawing upon a wealth of examples, Portes identifies three strategic sites of research--the informal economy, ethnic enclaves, and transnational communities--and he eschews grand narratives in favor of mid-range theories that help us understand specific kinds of social action.

The book shows how the meta-assumptions of economic sociology can be transformed, under certain conditions, into testable propositions, and puts forward a theoretical agenda aimed at moving the field out of its present impasse.

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About the author

Alejandro Portes is the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. His books include Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation.
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Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 19, 2010
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781400835171
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / Labor
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Portes suggests that immigration constitutes an especially appropriate Mertonian 'strategic research site' for economic sociology in that it provides very good opportunities for investigating the embeddedness of economic relationships in social situations....the contributors expand the conventional domain of economic sociology quite literally in both time and space."—Contemporary Sociology

"Alejandro Portes and his splendid band of collaborators make clear that the causes, processes, and consequences of migration vary dramatically from group to group, that a group's history makes a profound difference to its fate in the American economy. They have produced a sinewy book, a book worth arguing with."—Charles Tilly, Columbia University

The Economic Sociology of Immigration forges a dynamic link between the theoretical innovations of economic sociology with the latest empirical findings from immigration research, an area of critical concern as the problems of ethnic poverty and inequality become increasingly profound. Alejandro Portes' lucid overview of sociological approaches to economic phenomena provides the framework for six thoughtful, wide-ranging investigations into ethnic and immigrant labor networks and social resources, entrepreneurship, and cultural assimilation. Mark Granovetter illustrates how small businesses built on the bonds of ethnicity and kinship can, under certain conditions, flourish remarkably well. Bryan R. Roberts demonstrates how immigrant groups' expectations of the duration of their stay influence their propensity toward entrepreneurship. Ivan Light and Carolyn Rosenstein chart how specific metropolitan environments have stimulated or impeded entrepreneurial ventures in five ethnic populations. Saskia Sassen provides a revealing analysis of the unexpectedly flexible and vital labor market networks maintained between immigrants and their native countries, while M. Patricia Fernandez Kelly looks specifically at the black inner city to examine how insular cultural values hinder the acquisition of skills and jobs outside the neighborhood. Alejandro Portes also depicts the difference between the attitudes of American-born youths and those of recent immigrants and its effect on the economic success of immigrant children.

New York Times Bestseller

“Schlosser has a flair for dazzling scene-setting and an arsenal of startling facts . . . Fast Food Nation points the way but, to resurrect an old fast food slogan, the choice is yours.”—Los Angeles Times

In 2001, Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.

In a new afterword for this edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry, and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy, affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think for themselves.

“As disturbing as it is irresistible . . . Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing . . . channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Schlosser shows how the fast food industry conquered both appetite and landscape.”—The New Yorker

Eric Schlosser is a contributing editor for the Atlantic and the author of Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness, and Chew on This (with Charles Wilson).
The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of economic sociology available. The first edition, copublished in 1994 by Princeton University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation as a synthesis of the burgeoning field of economic sociology, soon established itself as the definitive presentation of the field, and has been widely read, reviewed, and adopted. Since then, the field of economic sociology has continued to grow by leaps and bounds and to move into new theoretical and empirical territory.

The second edition, while being as all-embracing in its coverage as the first edition, represents a wholesale revamping. Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg have kept the main overall framework intact, but nearly two-thirds of the chapters are new or have new authors. As in the first edition, they bring together leading sociologists as well as representatives of other social sciences. But the thirty chapters of this volume incorporate many substantial thematic changes and new lines of research--for example, more focus on international and global concerns, chapters on institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, organization and networks, and the economic sociology of the ancient world. The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures. It is a must read for all faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field.

A thoroughly revised and updated version of the most comprehensive treatment of economic sociology available Almost two-thirds of the chapters are new or have new authors Authors include leading sociologists as well as representatives of other social sciences Substantial thematic changes and new lines of research, including more focus on international and global concerns, institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, and organization and networks The definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures A must read for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field
The children of the past decade's influx of immigrants comprise a second generation far different than any this country has known before. Largely non-white and from the world's developing nations, these children struggle with complex problems of racial and ethnic relations in multicultural urban neighborhoods, attend troubled inner city schools, and face discriminatory labor markets and an economy that no longer provides the abundant manufacturing jobs that sustained previous generations of immigrants. As the contributors to The New Second Generation make clear, the future of these children is an open question that will be key to understanding the long-range consequences of current immigration.

The New Second Generation chronicles the lives of second generation youth in Miami, New York City, New Orleans, and Southern California. The contributors balance careful analysis with the voices of the youngsters themselves, focusing primarily on education, career expectations, language preference, ethnic pride, and the influence of their American-born peers. Demographic portraits by Leif Jensen and Yoshimi Chitose and by Charles Hirschman reveal that although most immigrant youths live at or below the official poverty line, this disadvantage is partially offset by the fact that their parents are typically married, self-employed, and off welfare. However, the children do not always follow the course set by their parents, and often challenge immigrant ethics with a desire to embrace American culture. Mary Waters examines how the tendency among West Indian teens to assume an American black identity links them to a legacy of racial discrimination. Although the decision to identify as American or as immigrant usually presages how well second generation children will perform in school, the formation of this self-image is a complex process. M. Patricia Fernandez-Kelly and Richard Schauffler find marked differences among Hispanic groups, while Ruben G. Rumbaut explores the influence of individual and family characteristics among Asian, Latin, and Caribbean youths.

Nativists frequently raise concerns about the proliferation of a non-English speaking population heavily dependent on welfare for economic support. But Alejandro Portes and Richard Schauffler's historical analysis of language preferences among Miami's Hispanic youth reveals their unequivocal preference for English. Nor is immigrationan inevitable precursor to a swollen welfare state: Lisandro Perez and Min Zhou and Carl L. Bankston demonstrate the importance of extended families and ethnic community solidarity in improving school performance and providing increased labor opportunities.

As immigration continues to change the face of our nation's cities, we cannot ignore the crucial issue of how well the second generation youth will adapt. The New Second Generation provides valuable insight into issues that may spell the difference between regeneration and decay across urban America.

From the author of Aftershock and The Work of Nations, his most important book to date—a myth-shattering breakdown of how the economic system that helped make America so strong is now failing us, and what it will take to fix it.

Perhaps no one is better acquainted with the intersection of economics and politics than Robert B. Reich, and now he reveals how power and influence have created a new American oligarchy, a shrinking middle class, and the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in eighty years. He makes clear how centrally problematic our veneration of the “free market” is, and how it has masked the power of moneyed interests to tilt the market to their benefit.

Reich exposes the falsehoods that have been bolstered by the corruption of our democracy by huge corporations and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street: that all workers are paid what they’re “worth,” that a higher minimum wage equals fewer jobs, and that corporations must serve shareholders before employees. He shows that the critical choices ahead are not about the size of government but about who government is for: that we must choose not between a free market and “big” government but between a market organized for broadly based prosperity and one designed to deliver the most gains to the top. Ever the pragmatist, ever the optimist, Reich sees hope for reversing our slide toward inequality and diminished opportunity when we shore up the countervailing power of everyone else.

Passionate yet practical, sweeping yet exactingly argued, Saving Capitalism is a revelatory indictment of our economic status quo and an empowering call to civic action.


From the Hardcover edition.
One out of five Americans, more than 55 million people, are first-or second-generation immigrants. This landmark study, the most comprehensive to date, probes all aspects of the new immigrant second generation's lives, exploring their immense potential to transform American society for better or worse. Whether this new generation reinvigorates the nation or deepens its social problems depends on the social and economic trajectories of this still young population. In Legacies, Alejandro Portes and Rubén G. Rumbaut—two of the leading figures in the field—provide a close look at this rising second generation, including their patterns of acculturation, family and school life, language, identity, experiences of discrimination, self-esteem, ambition, and achievement.

Based on the largest research study of its kind, Legacies combines vivid vignettes with a wealth of survey and school data. Accessible, engaging, and indispensable for any consideration of the changing face of American society, this book presents a wide range of real-life stories of immigrant families—from Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, the Philippines, China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam—now living in Miami and San Diego, two of the areas most heavily affected by the new immigration. The authors explore the world of second-generation youth, looking at patterns of parent-child conflict and cohesion within immigrant families, the role of peer groups and school subcultures, the factors that affect the children's academic achievement, and much more.

A companion volume to Legacies, entitled Ethnicities: Children of Immigrants in America, was published by California in Fall 2001. Edited by the authors of Legacies, this book will bring together some of the country's leading scholars of immigration and ethnicity to provide a close look at this rising second generation.

A Copublication with the Russell Sage Foundation
Much research on the city in developing societies has focused mainly on one of three areas—planning, demography, or economics—and has emphasized either power elites or the masses, but not both. The published literature on Latin America has reflected these interests and has so far failed to provide a comprehensive view of Latin American urbanization. Urban Latin America is an attempt to integrate research on Latin American social organization within a single theoretical framework: development as fundamentally a political problem. Alejandro Portes and John Walton have included material on both elites and marginal populations and on the three major areas of research in order to formulate and address some of the key questions about the structure of urban politics in Latin America.

Following an introduction that delineates the scope of Latin American urban studies, Portes discusses the Latin American city as a creation of European colonialism. He goes on to examine political behavior among the poor, with central reference to system support and countersystem potential. Walton provides material for a comparative study of four cities: Monterrey and Guadalajara in Mexico and Medellín and Cali in Colombia. He also summarizes a large number of urban elite studies and develops a theoretical interpretation of their collective results, based on class structure and vertical integration. Material in each chapter is cross-referenced to other chapters, and the authors have used a common methodological approach in synthesizing and interpreting the research literature. In the final chapter they generalize current findings, elaborating on the interface between elite and mass politics in the urban situation. They make some observations on approaching changes and pinpoint possible research strategies for the future.

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