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As of the last census in 2010, one in four children in the United States had a foreign born parent. This growing “second generation” immigrant population represents the most diverse segment of American society: the children of cleaners, builders, and crop-pickers, as well as corporate moguls, inventors and scientists, their parents arrive from all corners of the globe and bring with them socialization experiences representing a wide range of the world’s cultural variation. Moving in a world where no one is free to cross state borders simply as they wish, today’s second generation also have families which span international boundaries, and unequal legal rights to move across them or even to reside in the country in which they are raised. As a result of these uniquely international influences on the lives of the children of immigrants, a sociology of the second generation requires an international perspective to understand the diversity in second generation school, work, ethnic attachment and political life.
This book, co-written with Thomas Soehl (McGill), and Roger Waldinger (UCLA), develops and then applies this necessary international perspective. As a whole, it is a work of synthesis, absorbing and systematically assessing hypotheses from multiple theoretical frameworks – foremost assimilation, segmented assimilation, and transnationalism – and demonstrating the utility of the international perspective for understanding second generation outcomes. We draw on internationally standardized measures of sending country value orientations to glean new insights about how the origin context shapes the lives of the second generation. Using multi-level modelling techniques, we also discover that, despite the preoccupation with ethnic group difference in the second generation literature today, the majority of variation in second generation outcomes is found within, rather than between ethnic groups. Previously unobserved international influences at the family level - differences in legal status and the strengths of cross-border ties - matter for the children of immigrants raised in the United States. Thus, the international perspective we develop is crucial to understanding within-group differences as well as differences between groups of second generation migrants.
Senior Lecturer, University of Essex
Renee Luthra is senior lecturer (associate professor) of sociology at the University of Essex. Her teaching and research expertise include international migration, social stratification, education, and quantitative methods. Her current research examines immigrant integration in the UK, Germany and the United States, as well as ethnic and social class inequality in parenting practices, higher education, and health.