Hasidic        |        Latino        |       Italian        |        Polish        |        Conclusions

When we began our research, our original hypothesis was that each enclave would be distinct and self-sustaining. We expected each enclave to be isolated and have very little influence from outside cultures and ethnicities. Needless to say, we were very wrong. Aside from the Hasidic community, which was heavily isolated, the other three enclaves were largely influenced by other cultures and had a good relationship with outsiders.

The Hasidic enclave was extremely isolated. Almost everyone who lived in the area was Hasidic. During our time in the neighborhood, we felt and looked like outsiders. However, we were able to draw many conclusions about the enclave. First, the enclave was extremely self-sustaining. The small businesses in the enclave catered to every need of the Hasidic community. For example, the small businesses sold Hasidic clothing and kosher food. Our second conclusion about the Hasidic enclave was that the small businesses that were set up had strong ties to Hasidic culture. For example, there were many jewelry and silver shops, and many optics stores. These types of small businesses have had close ties to the Hasidic culture throughout history.

The Latino enclave was much less isolated than the Hasidic enclave. Most of the people that lived in the area were either of Dominican or Puerto Rican descent. When we were in the Latino enclave, we felt much more welcome and did not feel like outsiders. Our first conclusion about the Latino enclave was that the small businesses catered not only to the Latino community, but to anyone who visited the neighborhood. For example, there were many bodegas as well as grocery stores and barbershops that could serve guests of any ethnicity. Our second conclusion was that many of the small businesses in the area allowed the residents of the enclave to be connected to their relatives in Latin and Central America. For example, there were many shipping agencies that shipped good specifically to countries in Latin America. Our third conclusion was that the main goal of small business owners in the Latino enclave was to make a profit so they could send money to their families in their home countries. The small business owners were more concerned with making a profit than engaging in cultural isolation.

The Italian enclave was by far the smallest enclave. Many Italians have left the area due to the high rents that have been a result of gentrification. In the Italian enclave, we did not feel like outsiders at all. Our first conclusion about the Italian enclave was that it is not really an Italian enclave anymore. There are very few small businesses in the enclave owned by Italians. Most of the businesses that are owned by Italians are pizzerias that have a loyal following. Our second conclusion about small businesses in the Italian enclave was that most of the small businesses are owned by gentrifiers and newer members of the community. The gentrifiers have pushed many of the Italian small business owners out of the neighborhood. Also, many chain stores, such as McDonald’s have opened in the neighborhood, which has diminished the ethnic vibe.

The Polish enclave was also very open to outsiders. Although many of the people who lived in the area were Polish, there were also many Italians, Latinos, and gentrifiers. Our first conclusion about the Polish enclave was that there were three types of small businesses: Polish-owned small businesses that served specifically Polish people, Polish-owned small businesses that served everyone in the community, and small businesses that were opened by gentrifiers that attempted to create the type of authenticity in the neighborhood that is discussed by Sharon Zukin. Our second conclusion about the Polish enclave was that gentrification is having a negative effect on many small businesses. Gentrification is providing fierce competition, which has forced many of the ethnic small businesses to close their doors.

Through our ethnographic research, we learned a tremendous amount of information about the culture and history of Williamsburg. It was extremely interesting to see how the four major enclaves in the neighborhood differ and how they have evolved over the years. By analyzing each of the four enclaves, we realized that each has adapted to its own unique environment. This adaptation has occurred in different ways in each of the four enclaves. Overall, this was a great experience!



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