The U.S. mainstream expands--again
Presented by Richard Alba (CUNY), discussant : Patrick Simon (Ined)
We find evidence of U.S. mainstream expansion in the growing number of individuals who come from mixed minority-majority backgrounds. Census data about the families of infants with such backgrounds suggests that they are growing up in circumstances similar to those of infants with two white parents. Census and survey data about the identities of individuals from mixed families reveals unusual fluidity, as well as a tendency to tilt more towards whiteness than minority status. Data about social affiliations reveals more integration with whites than with individuals from the minority side of ancestries. However, individuals who are white and black are exceptions to these patterns. We note an important similarity between this expansion and the one associated with post-World War II assimilation: both are connected with growing diversity of identity and ethnic expression in the mainstream. An important difference lies in the more modest magnitude of the current expansion.
Richard Alba is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Educated at Columbia University, he arrived at CUNY in 2008, after three decades at the State University of New York in Albany.
Throughout his career, Dr. Alba has focused on the changes ensuing from immigration, both within immigrant-origin populations and to the mainstream society. For the United States, he has documented and theorized about these changes in such books as: Italian Americans: Into the Twilight of Ethnicity (1985); Ethnic Identity: The Transformation of White America (1990); Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration (2003, cowritten with Victor Nee); and Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America (2009).
Increasingly, Dr. Alba has emphasized a comparative perspective, and has done research in France and in Germany, with the support of Fulbright grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the German Marshall Fund, and Russell Sage Foundation. His most recent books involve trans-Atlantic comparisons. They include: The Children of Immigrants at School (2013, coedited with Jennifer Holdaway) and Strangers No More (2015, coauthored with Nancy Foner).
He has been elected President of the Eastern Sociological Society (1997-98) and Vice President of the American Sociological Association (2000-01). In 2008, he received the Award for a Distinguished Career of Scholarship, bestowed by the International Migration section of the American Sociological Association.