Cities, Migrant Incorporation, and Ethnicity: A Network Perspective on Boundary Work

Dahinden, Janine

In: Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2013, vol. 14, no. 1, p. 39-60

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    In this article, I am interested in the different types of boundaries emerging in a city characterized by a highly diverse population. The analysis of the personal social networks of 250 inhabitants of a small Swiss City—different types of migrants as well as non-migrants—supplemented by data from qualitative interviews brings to light the important categories for the creation of boundaries and the place of ethnicity among them. The inhabitant's network structures display specific network boundaries that are translated into symbolic and also social boundaries: four different clusters emerge among the population, pointing to their stratified social positioning in this city. Hereby an interplay of nationality, education, local establishment, mobility type, "race,” and religion are the most important structuring factors. It becomes clear that the common ideas of assimilation cannot grasp the complexity of the "categorical game” at place in this city when it comes to migrant's incorporation