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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Here you will find a comprehensive list of the Working Papers for the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR). The Institute for Social Science Research is a center for intellectual activity and basic research in the social sciences. We bring together faculty and students from a wide variety of disciplines, from the basic social science disciplines and the more applied programs in the professional schools alike. Our substantive focus is wide-ranging,including projects on the politics of race and ethnicity, poverty, immigration, public policy, social change, mass media, bureaucracy, ethnic identity in university life, and the political party system. Our particular strength lies in large-scale, interdisciplinary, quantitative research, but we welcome many smaller projects as well. A central component of this activity is the training of students to carry out such research, especially in the use of survey research and the secondary analysis of archived datasets.

Cover page of Exclusion of the Majority: Shrinking College Access and Public Policy in Metropolitan Los Angeles

Exclusion of the Majority: Shrinking College Access and Public Policy in Metropolitan Los Angeles


This paper focuses on educational mobility, particularly racial or ethnic minority group access to institutions of higher learning in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In America education determines opportunities for jobs and income, and therefore is the principal avenue through which the tremendous inequalities among groups in the population can be reconciled. If all people have equal access to education, then the present racial or ethnic group based inequalities will not persist. To the extent that inequalities would continue to exist, they would not be based on race or ethnicity but increasingly on actual differences in merit. If, on the other hand, the opposite were true, that is, there was no equal opportunity for schooling and discrimination persisted even when non-Whites dedicated themselves to education, then the idea of equal opportunity would give way to questions about the legitimacy of the entire system. Instead of offering a genuine chance, the educational process would be a part of a self-perpetuating cycle of inequality, all the more damaging because it encouraged people within it to believe that they were being prepared for an equal chance,leaving them to blame themselves when they failed.

Our research in large American metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles,suggests that equal educational opportunity does not exist across racial lines and that most Black and Hispanic students are educated in ways that are much closer to self-perpetuating cycles of inequality than to genuine preparation for mainstream opportunities for college or jobs. If this is true, the full potential of most of the young people in metropolitan Los Angeles is not being developed and the long-term potential for social and political conflict from the groups that are excluded is very severe.

Cover page of Ethnicity and Gender in the Global Periphery: A Comparison of Basotho and Navajo Women

Ethnicity and Gender in the Global Periphery: A Comparison of Basotho and Navajo Women


In this paper I attempt to crystalize a number of issues which pertain to the economic roles of women in peripheral areas of the world. To accomplish this goal, I draw on my own ethnographic field research among the Basotho women of southern Africa and the Navajo women of the American Southwest. The comparative analysis of women's economic roles in these two non-contiguous regions is guided by and incorporates several dimensions of world system theory. More specifically, included in the analysis are considerations of the interrelationship among, core, periphery, and semi periphery; and the intersection of class, ethnicity, and gender in the functioning of the economic systems of these two societies.

Cover page of Mexican Labor in Los Angeles

Mexican Labor in Los Angeles


This paper examines the status of Mexican labor in Los Angeles since 1970, the period of extraordinary growth. Historically, mexican workers were an integral but subordinate part of the Southwest in general (Briggs, Fogel and Schmidt 1977; Barrera 1987) and Los Angeles in particular (Romo 1983), but it is only recently that they have reemerged as a major component of the region's labor force. Approximately one in four workers in Los Angeles is now Mexican. This study analyzes both the immigrant workers, whose economic plight has been highly publicized, and the American-born Mexicans, the Chicanos, who had until recently constituted the majority of the Mexican labor force. Although the typical Mexican worker is at the bottom of the economy, the group as a whole is diverse in terms of economic status, as the data presented later in this paper will show.

This paper examines the issue of inequality, along with providing a general background on the Mexican labor force, and is divided into four parts. Part I examines the growth in the supply of Mexican labor. The major factor has been immigration; nonetheless, Chicano workers remain a significant proportion of the labor force. Part II examines the characteristics of Mexican labor, which on the average is younger and less educated than Anglo labor, and possess lower English language skills. Part III examines their economic position in Los Angeles' economy. On the whole, Mexicans can be characterized as low-wage workers situated in less stable parts of the economy. Part IV examines the determinants of labor market status. The low economic status of both immigrants and Chicanos is the product of inadequate education and on-the-job training, wage discrimination, and racial barriers that hinder the acquisition of human capital. For immigrants and new entrants into the economy this is further compounded by a changing structure of employment opportunities.

Cover page of Ethnic Preferences and Neighborhood Transitions

Ethnic Preferences and Neighborhood Transitions


In the past decade there has been a growing literature focused on explaining the patterns of residential separation in U.S. metropolitan areas. The research of two decades ago which focused on the locational structure of the mono-centric city represented by studies by Alonso (1964), Mills (1967), Muth (1969) and Wingo (1961) was mostly concerned with the way in which land uses as a whole are structured in the city. There was much less attention directed to the issues of residential separation, especially the separation of ethnic areas within metropolitan areas.

In the last dozen years at least three research streams have developed to explore the issue of residential patterning and neighborhood change. One of these streams considers neighborhood change as the outcome of a set of exogenous factors such as income, population growth, changing job locations and housing change.

A second research stream also includes exogenous economic factors additionally includes the role of racially biased household preferences, racial discrimination in the functioning of the housing market and by extension in the transition of neighborhoods.

The third research stream specifically examines the way in which discrimination affects the patterns of separation.

Paralleling the debates about the factors which influence the nature of residential change and residential separation are empirical studies of residential change itself. An important aspect of understanding residential change is residential behavior and the resulting changes in residential separation. Much of the emphasis has been on the role of tipping and explanations of tipping.

Cover page of New York City's Informal Economy

New York City's Informal Economy


A central question for theory and policy is whether the formation and expansion of informal sectors in advanced industrialized countries is the result of conditions created by advanced capitalism. Rather than assume that Third World immigration is causing informalization, we need a critical examination of the role it may or may not play in this process. Immigrants, in so far as they tend to form communities, may be in a favorable position to seize the opportunities represented by informalization. But the opportunities are not necessarily created by immigrants. They may well be a structured outcome of current trends in the advanced industrialized economies. Similarly, what are perceived as backward sectors of the economy may or may not be remnants from an earlier phase of industrialization; they may well represent a downgrading of work involving growing sectors of the economy. This type of inquiry requires an analytical differentiation of immigration, informalization and characteristics of the current phase of advanced industrialized economies. That should allow us to establish the differential impact of (a) immigration and (b) conditions in the economy at large on the formation and expansion of informal sectors.

The research on the informal sector in New York City seeks to contribute information on these various questions. The working hypothesis is that the current phase of the advanced industrialization contains conditions that induce the formation of an informal sector in large cities. There are two distinct methodological components to the study. One is concerned with identifying conditions in the major growth sectors that may induce informalization. This analysis has been completed (Sassen-Koob 1981; 1984a). The other is concerned with identifying the characteristics of the informal sector itself. This paper reports on this part of the study and the findings for New York.

Cover page of Ethnic Cleavages and Voting Patterns in Los Angeles

Ethnic Cleavages and Voting Patterns in Los Angeles


Immigration into the U.S. from countries in Latin and Asia is rapidly changing the ethnic and demographic composition of American cities. In Los Angeles alone, the Hispanic 1 population grew from 18 percent of the city's total population in 1970 to 28 percent in 1980. The Asian population, while smaller in total size, rose from 5 percent in 1970 to 7 percent in 1980. As the new wave of immigrants grows in size, much attention in both the academic community as well as the mass public is being devoted to their impact on the social and political composition of the communities in which they reside.

In terms of political development, the new wave immigrants pose new questions for research on ethnic politics. Most salient of these are the following: what form of political empowerment will take place in these ethnic communities? How adequate is the political assimilation model posed by Robert Dahl (1961) or the political incorporation model posed by Browning, Tabb and Marshall (1984) in explaining the political behavior of these ethnic groups? Moreover, given that new wave immigration is highly concentrated in American cities where Black Americans have come to constitute both sizeable proportions of the population and political office holding , what impact will the growing presence of new immigrants have on Black political development?

In order to address some of these concerns, this paper examines the political behavior of the Asian, Black, and Hispanic communities of Los Angeles in a comparative context. Attention is focused on the following issues: 1) the extent to which each group forms an ethnic voting bloc in the city 2) differences in comparative levels of local political involvement and the forces responsible, and 3) the potential for inter-ethnic coalition building among Asians, Blacks and Hispanics. Moreover, the work assesses the adequacy of the Dahl ethnic political assimilation model in explaining the political experiences of these new wave immigrants and discusses the nature and level of political incorporation developing within each group.

Cover page of Ethnicity and the Politics of Growth in Monterey Park, California

Ethnicity and the Politics of Growth in Monterey Park, California


This paper offers one small but dramatic example of grassroots responses to urban restructuring. It is a case study of the politics of ethnicity and growth in Monterey Park, North America's first suburban Chinatown. Evolving after World War II from a predominantly white, middle class suburb into a multi-ethnic city, today Monterey Park has the highest concentration of Asians of any city in the United States.

Our research addresses two issues: (1) the development of the politics of growth and ethnicity in a multi-ethnic,middle class suburb undergoing rapid demographic and economic change as a result of the rapid influx of Asian people and capital; (2) the role and stands taken by new Asian immigrants and established residents -- Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Anglos --in the struggle for ethnic representation and local control over land use, space, language,and the very definition of community.

This paper focuses specifically on the ethnic actors and political currents surrounding the City Council election of April 1988. We used a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative methods appropriate to a community study: demographic analysis,ethnographic observation of the City Council and political campaigns, content analysis of English and Chinese newspapers, interviews with candidates and community leaders, interviews conducted during precinct walking with the leading candidates, and finally, participation in an exit poll and statistical analysis of results.

Cover page of Meritocracy and Diversity in Higher Education: Discrimination Against Asian-Americans in the Post-Bakke Era

Meritocracy and Diversity in Higher Education: Discrimination Against Asian-Americans in the Post-Bakke Era


The primary purposes of this paper are: (1) to examine some of the recent changes in admission patterns and policies among some of the most prestigious institutions of higher education, especially recent moves away from strict meritocratic criteria to increasing reliance on subjective and non-academic criteria and on an emerging, but vaguely defined concept of "diversity," and (2) to determine the implications of these changes not only on the admissions and enrollments of Asian American students in these institutions but also on the time-honored principle of meritocracy upon which these so-called world-class universities have built their reputation of academic excellence. The scope of this study is severely limited by the closely guarded data and documents available to date as well as by the fact that the issue is complex and still unfolding. As a consequence, this study should therefore be considered a contribution to an ongoing public policy debate and its conclusions considered tentative.

Cover page of Recent Racial Incidents in Higher Education: A Contemporary Perspective

Recent Racial Incidents in Higher Education: A Contemporary Perspective


In recent years,there has been a resurgence of racial/ethnic conflict at predominantly White institutions of higher education. Incidents of harassment and violence at the University of Michigan, the University of Massachusetts and other campuses have highlighted the continuing racial/ethnic divisions among majority and minority students (Wilkerson 1988; Farrell 1988a and 1988b; Simpson 1987; Williams 1987). These incidents have emerged during a period when the society, in general, has expressed concern about the declining enrollment of racial minorities -- particularly Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans -- and, to a lesser extent, Asians, in higher education. Therefore, it is ironic that those minority students already enrolled in predominantly White institutions of higher education are experiencing increasing levels of racial/ethnic discrimination and feelings of isolation.

To that end, this paper is a preliminary attempt to develop a perspective on this apparently worsening situation. In order to establish a contemporary understanding of this problem, a general content analytical technique was employed to delineate the most significant contemporary issues/factors surrounding racial/ethnic incidents on the campuses of predominantly White institutions of higher education (Borg and Gall 1979; Babbie 1983). Content analysis has been determined to be an effective tool for monitoring social change. During the past year, there has been an emergence of reportorial interest in racial/ethnic conflict on White university campuses, thus the employment of this technique. The basic approach was to examine the patterns of focus in selected newspapers and related publications and to summarize emergent themes and trends.

For the purpose of this qualitative analysis, a national newspaper, The New York Times, a local newspaper and selected black-oriented newspapers were reviewed for the calendar years 1987 through June, 1988. In addition, related books, articles and periodicals on higher education issues also were assessed. The specific objectives of this investigation were to:

- to provide an overview of minority students on White college campuses,

- to examine the general perceptions of racism in contemporary society,

- to determine the scope of racial/ethnic incidents on campus of predominantly White institutions of higher education, and

- to assess prospects for change.

The main results of this analysis indicate that Blacks were the primary minority group impacted by these "reported" racial incidents, but Hispanics and Asians also have been found to be experiencing increased levels of 'actual" and "perceived"racial discrimination. Native Americans have not emerged in this content analysis as being victims of "reported" racial incidents in contemporary higher education.

Cover page of Racial and Ethnic Politics in America

Racial and Ethnic Politics in America


In this paper I examine the conditions under which racial and ethnic groups in America express their group identities through political action. Toward this end, I review first the socio-economic status model of political and electoral participation. In the discussion of this model, I open up for consideration the much broader range of types of political participation possible in society. I then hypothesize that there are an enormous variety of stimuli possible which provoke group based electoral and political behavior, and based on the political participation model -- an alternative model introduced in Race and Ethnicity in Chicago Politics (Pinderhughes 1987) -- briefly discuss some of the factors which explain their existence. Finally, using Black political behavior as an example, I specify some of the ways in which extensive group based political mobilization has occurred in the U.S.