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Friday, October 4 • 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Who Benefits From Ethnic Capital? Group Norms, Social-Class and Education Among Armenian-Americans in Los Angeles

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Sociologists show that the high levels of college-educated adults found in specific immigrant communities in the United States become a social resource, called ethnic capital, which promotes academic achievement for even the working-class descendants of these groups who access it by participating in coethnic community organizations. But how does ethnic capital actually guide youth educational mobility? And does it benefit coethnic families who do not participate in these supplementary organizations? I investigate these questions through original, qualitative fieldwork with 42 working-class, second-generation Armenian-Americans in Los Angeles. By comparing how social support for college preparation varies with organizational participation, I find that despite categorically converging with organizational participants in graduate degree aspirations, non-participants access weaker mobility resources which distances them from perceived ethnic norms of academic achievement and a symbolic belonging to the coethnic community.
That is, although research suggests that second-generation immigrant youth, especially those of working-class parents, should have unproblematic access to ethnic capital because of cultural features in immigrants’ communities, I find there are material barriers which distinguish the social capital gains accessed by organizational participants versus non-participants. Whereas non-participants solely access symbolic resources by way of normative expectations enforced through coethnic networks, organizational participants enjoy sponsoring social capital which facilitates robust mentorship relationships that provide academic purpose by framing educational and professional mobility as a vehicle for contributing to the welfare of the ethnic nation. I conclude that how ethnic capital benefits families varies but favors those who already possess material and cultural resources to enroll their children in coethnic organizations.


Oshin Khachikian

PhD Candidate, University of California, Irvine

Friday October 4, 2019 4:30pm - 5:30pm PDT
Pacific Ballroom D 311 Peltason Dr., Irvine, CA, 92697

Attendees (5)