buildingdirectsourethnographicattentiontoculturalpoliticsinthepublicsphere whereimmigrantstatusesaredefinedanddebated,citizenrightsandresponsibili-ties invoked, structural inequalities challenged, and cultural identifications cre-ated—to the cultural processes in which immigrants are made and make them-selves as citizens and new national imaginaries, eventually, are envisioned(Anderson 1983/1991).Beforedevelopingthisargumentfurther,however,Ifirstconsiderhowissuesof cultureandscaleareaddressed inthesegmented-assimilationmodel. Ithenhigh-lightelementsofanapproachdevelopedinmyownethnographicworkconcerned withhow second-generation, working-class Sikhsare becoming middle-classBrit-ish citizens.
The Assimilation Paradigm
Forgenerations,sociologicalstudiesofimmigrationinAmerica—ethnographicas well as survey research—have been framed in terms of a classic narrative of migration and social incorporation.
The immigrant experience has been narratedas a journey, as Lisa Lowe (1996) puts it, from “foreign strangeness to assimilationto citizenship.” Immigrants, it is assumed, become Americans through linear andirreversiblestagesofcultural“acculturation”andsocial“assimilation”intothehostsociety. While typologies differ in the attention given to distinctive dimensions of or routes to assimilation, they share a common assumption that acculturation andassimilationareinevitableandnecessarytopromoteandprotectthebroadersocialgood.
Overthepastfifteenyears,studiesinfluencedbydevelopmentsintheneweco-nomicsociology(Guillenetal.2002)havemovedbeyondsingle-dimensionmodelsof “straight-line” assimilation and acculturation to explain the different levels of educational and economic success among immigrant populations. The develop-ment of a multidimensional model of segmented assimilation has been central tothis advancement (Portes and Zhou 1993; Portes and Rumbaut 2001). In the1990s,AlejandroPortes,RubénG.Rumbaut,andcolleaguescompletedTheChil-dren of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), a multifaceted survey of the edu-cationalperformanceandsocial,cultural,andpsychologicaladaptationofthechil-dren of immigrants in American. Analyses of these longitudinal data have madesubstantialcontributionstoboththeempiricalknowledgebaseandthetheoreticalformulations of processes of segmented assimilation (see, particularly, Portes andRumbaut 2001; Rumbaut and Portes 2001).Contrary tomodels ofthepast, thesegmented-assimilationtheory stresses het-erogeneity, within both the immigrant population and the host society itself. Newimmigrants (post-1965) can be distinguished, the authors argue, along threedimensions critical to second-generation adaptation: (1) individual features orhuman capital, influenced by educational background, occupational skills, finan-cial resources, and facility with the English language; (2) the host society’s recep-tion of immigrant populations, particularly in relation to governmental policies,
THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY