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Migrant enclaves: disempowering economic ghettos or sanctuaries of opportunities for migrants? A double lens dialectic analysis

Dieu Hack-Polay (Lincoln International Business School, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)

Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy

ISSN: 1750-6204

Article publication date: 8 July 2019

Issue publication date: 21 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the migrant dilemma about operating extensively in migrant enclaves vs integration in host communities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a critical literature review contrasting views and perspectives of the role of migrant enclaves in migrant integration and contribution in new societies. Research in the area of ethnic enclaves has been polarised: on the one hand, the optimists argue the critical benefits of migrant and ethnic community networks, thus downplaying potential drawbacks of such networks and the disadvantage externally imposed on migrants; on the other hand, the pessimists overemphasise the disadvantages of ethnic enclaves, portraying them as ghettos of alienation.

Findings

Based on the social solidarity integration model and immigrant-host and social interaction theory, the paper posits that migrant community networks could intentionally or unintentionally engender cultural alienation, worsening an already precarious educational, cultural and economic exclusion. Thus, migrants could remain in lower societal roles and experience limited upward social mobility if they operate exclusively within migrant and ethnic networks. However, ethnic enclaves, at the same time, offer the initial psychological nurturing on which future successful socialisation work with migrant communities can be built.

Research limitations/implications

From a research angle, the theorisation of migrant enclave requires a new approach, which identifies dynamism and contextualisation as central to the debate.

Practical implications

From a policy perspective, the research suggests the rethinking of the role of community support systems (and the wider enclave debate). The organisational implications the research suggests a shift of the organisational paradigm in the way migrant organisations manage themselves and support members in the enclave.

Originality/value

This paper’s contribution is to take a duality approach to studying the ethnic enclave and posits that this will engender effective social policy that helps reduce economic inequality.

Keywords

Citation

Hack-Polay, D. (2019), "Migrant enclaves: disempowering economic ghettos or sanctuaries of opportunities for migrants? A double lens dialectic analysis", Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 418-437. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEC-01-2019-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited