Small Businesses

Hasidic        |        Latino        |       Italian        |        Polish        |        Conclusions

Williamsburg consists of four major enclaves: Hasidic, Latino, Italian, and Polish. We have determined, through interviews and ethnographic research, that different social and economic factors have led to the development of each of these enclaves and we have presented our research by section.

Before you begin viewing, we define what an ethnic enclave is. The term ethnic enclave was first introduced by Alejandro Portes and Robert Manning in their 1986 article entitled, “The Immigrant Enclave: Theory and Empirical Examples.” Portes and Manning developed the theory of ethnic enclaves to critique the assimilation theory of immigrant incorporation. According to the assimilation theory, all immigrants entered the United States from the same position on the social hierarchy and in order to obtain upward social mobility they had to shed their cultural traits and assimilate into mainstream American culture. However, Portes and Manning argued that immigrants did not always have to assimilate. Instead, they could set up their own enclaves made up of people of their own ethnicity.

In these enclaves immigrant could retain their traditional cultural values. According to Portes and Manning, there were three conditions that must be met in order for an ethnic enclave to develop. These three conditions were:

  1. a presence of a substantial number of immigrants with business experience acquired in the sending country;
  2. the availability of capital; and
  3. the availability of cheap labor.

The immigrants that were already established in the enclave would exploit newly arrived immigrants for cheap labor, but would provide them with human capital and training so they could create their own small businesses in the future. Thus, the immigrants would attain upward social mobility within the enclave. All of these trends can be seen in the four ethnic enclaves of Williamsburg.


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