Research

The Integration of the Post-1965 Immigrant Second Generation
My research examines the integration of Asian and Latino immigrants and their children into American society as well as its implications for American culture, politics and society. My theoretical and empirical contributions focus on the immigrant second generation, how ethnic neighborhoods and cultural processes affect their social mobility, and how the American society has transformed as a result of their integration.

I adopt a unique approach to the study of second-generation integration. While prior work has raised concerns about a second-generation decline or disadvantage, my research has documented significant progress among the second generation in comparison to both their immigrant parents and to their native-born peers of the same race. While my earlier focus has been on the Latino population—who are most at risk for downward mobility—my more recent work has broadened to study all second-generation ethnic groups, including Asian Americans. A series of my published peer-reviewed papers on the second generation have examined multiple dimensions within the processes of cultural, linguistic, civic and political, socioeconomic, and spatial assimilation among the children of immigrants. This work has been published in both leading general journals in the discipline (including Social Forces and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science) as well as the three leading journals in the field of international migration (International Migration Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies). My research has also been featured in two academic publications geared towards a more general audience: Contexts and Pathways.

My published research on the post-1965 immigrant second generation makes four original contributions. First, unlike other scholars who rely on cross-sectional analyses, I employ a longitudinal approach to the study of the immigrant second generation. Second, I study the immigrant second generation in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Third, I study the immigrant second generation using a globally comparative approach. Fourth, I focus on how ethnic neighborhoods and cultural processes affect second-generation mobility.

Neighborhood Gentrification and the Politics of Urban Change
My book project, Amsterdam Avenue: Hyper-Gentrification and the Remaking of a Global City, examines the impact of neighborhood gentrification on the social lives of residents and businesses along Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan’s West Side in the aftermath of the most recent housing collapse and revival in New York City. While prior work on urban change has amply documented the impact of gentrification on neighborhood residents, my work is the first to examine both residential and commercial gentrification, focusing on the iterative relationship between these two micro-level social processes.

Amsterdam Avenue is an innovative study of gentrification and the politics of urban change, focusing on 10 contiguous neighborhoods from West Chelsea to Inwood, including Hudson Yards and Manhattanville which are the current sites of two major real estate redevelopment projects. The study examines the consequences of neighborhood gentrification for local businesses and residents, while also providing an intimate glimpse into the social life along this iconic avenue. Drawing on 140 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with residents and businesses, I argue that the origin of the current housing affordability crisis in New York City lies in the recent, astronomical rise of luxury real estate as a result of an unprecedented influx of global capital into the city. One consequence of gentrification is the increase in racial diversity and integration in formerly segregated communities, while simultaneously posing new challenges for community social cohesion and potential displacement of long-term residents. The book seeks to capture these dynamics by theoretically sampling a diverse range of respondents and businesses, including both new-comers and long-term residents.

Hyper-Selectivity, Racial Mobility and the New American Mainstream
While only 6.3 percent of the total U.S. population, the rise of Asian Americans has been astronomical. Just less than a century ago, Chinese immigrants were described as illiterate, undesirable, unmarriageable and unassimilable foreigners, full of “filth and disease,” and unfit for U.S. citizenship. Three decades of research has documented the exceptional educational attainment among second-generation Asians, confirming the stereotypes of Asians as the model minority. Yet both the historical legacy of anti-Asian racism and the contemporary moments of discrimination towards Asians serve as a reminder that Asians, to some, are still the perpetual foreigners to the American soil.

An important, but missing, factor in this debate is the selectivity of post-1965 immigrant flows from Asia and how this selectivity affects perceptions of social mobility and boundary formation among U.S. Asians.

With Jennifer Lee, I am examining the role of hyper-selectivity on second-generation achievement, on the racial mobility of Asian Americans, and on the remaking of the new American mainstream. Drawing on census data and the 2016 National Asian American Survey, this project provides the most recent trends in Asian second-generation attainment, their transition from education to the labor market, their views on affirmative action policy, as well as their perceptions of both intra-racial and inter-racial boundary formation among Asians, and its implications for their assimilation into the American mainstream.