A Sociology of Immigration
(Re)Making Multifaceted America
By Ewa Morawska
Palgrave Macmillan – £55.00
Scholarly and informative, but never dry to the point of dense tedium, A Sociology of Immigration – (Re)Making Multifacted America by Ewa Morawska, is to immigration and sociology what Antony Beevor is to history. In other words, one invariably knows what one’s going to get when reading her informed and always insightful work. As Christian Jopke (The American University of Paris, France) says: ‘’Every book by Ewa Morawska is an event, and so is this one. Like no other book that I know it gives a sense for the complexity and context-dependence, from local to national to global, of the American immigration experience.’’
Having lived in the United States myself for a number of years, I know first hand what it’s like to be frowned upon and looked down on by (quite often smug) belligerent immigration officials, who, more often than not, were not born in the United States themselves. And with current legislation coming into practice that allows for yet more Mexicans to be stopped and searched at random, without good cause, this book couldn’t really be more timely.
In fact, as a sincere study of immigration and all that it entails, A Sociology of Immigration is, with the exception of facts and figures, almost timeless.
Beginning with a comparison between ‘The Experience of Old and New Immigrants’ – in which the authoress addresses the political, economical and socio-cultural circumstances of early twentieth century immigration to the US (1870s – 1914) with that of contemporary immigration (1965 to the present) – Morawska compares the compelling insight of ‘’kaleidoscope’’ and ‘’unique composition’’ of the former, with that of ‘’semi-peripheral’’ incorporation of immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean with the latter. The prime manifestation and essential difference being: ‘’The previous migration wave was composed primarily of uneducated, un-or low-skilled people, while a significant proportion of contemporary (im)migrants are highly educated with professional and managerial status.’’
In terms of an elongated brain-drain from the geographical likes of say Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, it’s hardly surprising that these places are not only deemed that of an economic third-world design, but also that of an intellectual third-world. Although, as is resoundingly well known, nothing could be further from the truth.The continuing lure of being able to work (illegally) for the yankee dollar, by far, surpasses the ability to remain simultaneously poor and intellectual: ‘’In terms of macro-structural circumstances generating transnational population movement, this change is the result of a gradual economic development in sender, non-core parts of the world on the one hand, and, on the other, of the postindustrial transformation of core (here, the United States) economy that has greatly increased the demand for a highly skilled workforce […].’’
Needless to say, the varying influential complexities entailed within, as well as on the periphery of the above, are immense. From gender and race to the ever changing degree of racial/ethnic segregation, from immigratory intention to power relations, from division of labour intensity to the frequent experience of prejudice/discrimination in ones’ host country – all these issues are clearly enormous.
By triggering far reaching repercussions of economic woe, the combined influences of all of the above are felt throughout the entire United States – as Morawska makes abundantly clear throughout A Sociology of Immigration – (Re)making Multifaceted America. And as mentioned at the outset, its empirical persuasion is luckily grounded within that of a scholarly approach, which accounts not only for its profound validity, but also its readability. Making this book a mighty considered and concise declaration of immigratory practice as a whole.