Global Urban Youth Culture: Peer Status and Orientations toward School among Children of Immigrants in New York and London
Dominant explanations for the low socioeconomic outcomes of some ethnic groups in the United States suggest that low-skilled minority, immigrant families living among other disadvantaged minorities will assimilate into the urban underclass, and as a consequence their children will demonstrate “reactive ethnicity” (Gans 1992), adopting the “adversarial subculture” of the “values and norms” of the inner city’s “outlooks and cultural ways”, leading to poor outcomes in school and beyond (Portes and Zhou 1993, 81) . This “downward assimilation” trajectory is one of three possibilities outlined by segmented assimilation theory (Portes, FernandezKelly, and Haller 2009; Portes, Fernández-Kelly, and Haller 2005; Portes and Zhou 1993). 2 An early example of segmented assimilation theory, Alex Stepick’s (1998) ethnography of 1980s Miami shows how academically successful Haitian Americans in Miami maintain ethnic identities, whereas their low-achieving counterparts identify as African American and reject Haitian identity in their styles, dress, and attitudes. Stepick suggests that this cultural assimilation leads low achievers to downward assimilation. Modood (2004) has suggested that segmented assimilation theory is applicable in the British context, as well, and can explain the higher levels of university enrollment among Indians and Pakistanis, compared to Afro-Caribbeans, in Britain.