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Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration [Hardcover]

Richard D Alba
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 July 2003
In this age of multicultural democracy, the idea of assimilation - that the social distance separating immigrants and their children from the mainstream of American society closes over time - seems outdated and, in some forms, even offensive. But, as Richard Alba and Victor Nee show in their systematic treatment of assimilation, it continues to shape the immigrant experience, even though the geography of immigration has shifted from Europe to Asia, Africa and Latin America. Institutional changes, from civil rights legislation to immigration law, have provided a more favourable environment for non-white immigrants and their children than in the past. Assimilation is still driven, in claim, by the decisions of immigrants and the second generation to improve their social and material circumstances in America. But they also show that immigrants, historically and in the contemporary world, have profoundly changed American society and culture in the process of becoming Americans. Surveying a variety of domains - language, socio-economic attachments, residential patterns and inter-marriage - Alba and Nee demonstrate the continuing importance of assimilation in American life. They predict that it will blur the boundaries among the major, racially defined populations, as non-whites and Hispanics are increasingly incorporated into the mainstream.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (1 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067401040X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674010406
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 16.1 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,170,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


There are, to be sure, varying degrees of success and different patterns of adjustment to America, but underlying them all is one powerful "master trend": surprisingly rapid Americanization. The authoritative synthesis of the present processes of assimilation is Richard Alba and Victor Nee's sociological masterpiece, "Remaking the American Mainstream". It shows that for nonblacks, assimilation is alive and well in America. It is not passive integration into a static, Anglo-Protestant mainstream (which was always a sociological fiction anyway), but an endlessly dynamic two-way cultural process.--Orlando Patterson"New York Times" (08/16/2009)

About the Author

RICHARD D. ALBA is Distinguished Professor of Sociology, State University of New York at Albany VICTOR NEE is Goldwin Smith Professor of Sociology, Cornell University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars academic book 28 Nov 2010
I would suggest this book to those who are interested in immigration, demography, sociology or human geography. The author had published other good articles in this field. This book is good for students, researchers who studies these issues.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, brilliant book on immigration 13 Jun 2006
By JD - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This intelligently-written book contains a nuanced discussion of immigrant incorporation in the United States. It updates and clarifies "assimilation" theory, and describes how it can be applied to understanding how immigrants become part of American society. I recommend it to anyone interested in a thoughtful discussion of these issues.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book on an Outdated Concept 8 Aug 2007
By Larry H. Shinagawa - Published on
I recommend this book for anyone interested in a contemporary reformulation and revamping of assimilation theory. Alba and Nee do credible justice to the idea that America continues to be a Nation best characterized as a nation of immigrants and where assimilation into the mainstream is still, by and large, possible.

However, the book minimizes the significance of factors related to transnationalism, racialization, and the dominant, emerging, and overarching impact of panethnicity in contemporary American society. Fundamentally, the discussion boils to this: does race continue to define and delineate American society and opportunity? Alba and Nee believe that while it has some impact, it is still residual. As a scholar coming from an alternative orientation, I disagree, and in a forthcoming book, my team of researchers will describe an alternative perspective that emphasizes the salience of race which we believe is more rooted in American experience.
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