Post-Fordism, Globalization, and Crime in America

It was not until the recent ‘age of globalization’ that North American criminological and sociological interests turned again toward migration, and this time contemporaneously with what was happening in Europe and elsewhere. In between, the preoccupation of criminology was with the issue of the generations successive to the immigrant generations, their integration, and their possible contribution to phenomena of deviance and crime. It is not by chance that the discussion in the 1930s had shifted from Thorsten Sellin’s cultural kind of conflict to Edwin Sutherland’s normative view (Cressey 1968). When descendants of the Chicago School, such as Robert Sampson, began to pay attention to the results of globalization, they seemed to come up with outcomes not very remote from the classic Chicago School findings. In fact, even very recently, Robert Sampson (2012: 251-259) noted that first generations are in a sense ‘protected’ from crime by their relationships with their original families within tried and true ‘ethnic niches’, which separate the migrant youth from the more obviously crime-prone currents ofthe context in which they find themselves. Sampson could even maintain—to the chagrin of his many Conservative critics—that in the 1990s Mexican immigration to the United States was one of the factors contributing to declining crime rates (Sampson 2006). At first their cultures of origin are crime- adverse, and this is especially the case within so-called ‘ethnic enclaves’ (Martinez and Valenzuela 2006; Sampson 2006; Stowell 2007; Stowell et al 2009). However, when their offspring integrate within American society, one ofthe unfortunate consequences ofthe integration process is their participation within cultures that are characterized by a higher level of crime and violence. Rumbaut et al (2006: 71), for example, showed that the incarceration rates for foreign born males in all American ethnic groups are systematically lower than the incarceration rates for US born males in the same groups, as appears from the following table:

Table 1 Percentage of Males 18 to 39 Years Old Incarcerated in the United States, 2000, by Nativity, in Rank Order by Ethnicity9

Ethnicity (Self-Reported)

Males, Ages 18—39

% Incarcerated, by Nativity

Nativity

Total in US (N)

% Incarcerated

Foreign Born

US Born

Total

45,200,417

3.04

0.86

3.51

Latin American Ethnicities

Salvadoran, Guatemalan

433,828

0.68

0.52

3.01

Colombian, Ecuadorian, Peruvian

283,599

1.07

0.80

2.37

  • (Continued)
  • 9 Table 1 is reproduced (adapted) with permission of Rumbaut etal (2006: 71).

Table 1 Continued

Ethnicity (Self-Reported)

Males, Ages 18—39

% Incarcerated, by Nativity

Nativity

Total in US (N)

% Incarcerated

Foreign Born

US Born

Mexican

5,017,431

2.71

0.70

5.90

Dominican

182,303

2.76

2.51

3.71

Cuban

213,302

3.01

2.22

4.20

Puerto Ricana

642,106

5.06

4.55

5.37

Asian Ethnicities

Indian

393,621

0.22

0.11

0.99

Chinese, Taiwanese

439,086

0.28

0.18

0.65

Korean

184,238

0.38

0.26

0.93

Filipino

297,011

0.64

0.38

1.22

Vietnamese

229,735

0.89

0.46

5.60

Laotian, Cambodian

89,864

1.65

0.92

7.26

Other

White, non-Hispanic

29,014,261

1.66

0.57

1.71

Black, non-Hispanic

5,453,546

10.87

2.47

11.61

Two or more race groups, other

1,272,742

3.09

0.72

3.85

Source-. 2000 US Census, 5% PUMS. Data are estimates for adult males, ages 18 to 39, in correctional institutions at the time of the census.

a Island-born Puerto Ricans, who are US citizens by birth and not immigrants, are classified as ‘foreign born’ for the purposes of this table; mainland-born Puerto Ricans are here classified under ‘US born’.

In the 1990s, there was a true rediscovery of the sociological and criminological interest in the nexuses between migration and crime and between migration and punishment (Marshall 1997; Tonry 1997; Martinez and Valenzuela 2006; McDonald 2009). This interest focused in part on the United States and in part on a comparison between what was going on in the United States and what was going on elsewhere, especially in Europe. Rumbaut owed much to the perspective of many important scholars, such as Alejandro Portes and others, according to whom second-generation children follow a path of downward mobility into a sort of ‘underclass’ where they join a section of the native born. They find themselves within urban environments haunted by labour market segmentation, class barriers, and racial discrimination. Contrary to the destiny of first generations, these groups of native-born youth find themselves in danger of joining, within excluded and marginalized sections of American society, in the same hopeless and negative social destiny. The results ofRumbaut’s analysis of the connection between first generations, second generations, and risk of imprisonment seem to give credence to such predictions.

Rumbaut mobilized the traditional explanation of the Chicago School about so- called ethnic niches to explain the very low imprisonment rate of first generations. He drew attention to the fact that the various ethnic groups have very different incarceration rates from each other but, within each one of them, American born have higher rates than foreign born within the same group. Rumbaut explained that, in the shift from first to second generations, not only does one exit the somewhat conservative and protective warmth of his ethnic niche but one also enters a wider world that is characterized—as the old Chicago School vulgate would say—by heterogeneity, mobility, and anonymity, thereby crucially lowering social controls. There is, however, also a logic of ‘racialization’ at work, ie the construction of an inferior ‘other’—as Calavita comments on the Southern European case (Calavita 2005: 144-156). Second-generation children face the prospect of downward assimilation within a labour market segmented according to class, gender, and national origins (see Brotherton and Barrios, Chapter 11 in this volume).

 
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