All posts by porterem

“The Other Side of Austin” Project

By Pamela Neumann and Caitlyn Collins

Photo Credit: Maggie Tate

It had been a lively, thought-provoking semester. Javier Auyero taught a course called Poverty and Marginality in the Americas, and we had reached the last day of class in Spring 2012 before we parted ways for the summer. Javier sat at the head of the table, cross-armed, leaning back in his chair. Although he often had a look of intensity about him, today he looked more deep in thought than usual. He began speaking slowly, his enthusiasm growing as he presented our class with an idea. What if, he said, we take what we’ve learned during this course about the nature and experiences of those living “at the margins” of society, and apply it to our own city of Austin by writing a book? Javier couldn’t promise us where the project would lead, whether it would be successful, or what the outcome would look like. But he was certain that the collective endeavor would be unlike anything else we had experienced in our years of schooling thus far: a pedagogical, intellectual, and political project that, as Javier writes, would chronicle “the lived experiences of inequality and social marginalization, the ways in which inequality and exclusion intertwine with individual lives and are embedded in intricate seams of biological issues.”

We jumped at the chance. The collective energy we had felt together over the semester, our faith in Javier, and the importance of the joint enterprise all felt compelling. This new endeavor came to be known informally as the “Other Side of Austin” project. Over a series of intellectually and sometimes emotionally intense meetings (held as potlucks on Friday evenings several times a month at someone’s home), we began to develop a consensus about both the aims and methodology of the project.

We decided that each of us would conduct a series of life-history style interviews with different individuals representing various dimensions of life in Austin, which, though hardly invisible, are rarely noticed or discussed in either popular or academic publications about this city, which tend to focus on the city’s reputation as a cool, trendy, creative, musically inclined, and environmentally conscious place to live.  While all of these descriptors are true to some extent, we felt that much more remained to be said about the issues and struggles confronting men and women who live at the margins of most people’s imaginations but who are in fact at the center of everyday life in Austin.

Photo Credit: Maggie Tate

We spent many months selecting and then getting to know the subjects of our respective chapters. We visited their homes, ate meals with them, spent time with them at work, and met their families and friends. We conducted many hours of interviews and transcriptions, and then began writing. In doing so our goal was to weave together the details of each individual story – a taxi cab driver, a migrant worker, a musician, etc. – with different structural forces or phenomena shaping their lives—e.g. gentrification, corporate labor practices, gender inequality, immigration policy, racial discrimination. We met regularly to workshop each other’s chapter drafts, offering feedback on style and content, as well as how best to incorporate relevant research and theoretical perspectives to illuminate what C. Wright Mills famously dubbed “the connection between biography and history.” The subjects of each chapter read, revised, and approved their respective stories.

Photo Credit: Javier Auyero

In the introduction to what eventually became our book manuscript, Javier describes both the “economy of effort” and the “economy of feelings” that went into the completion of this project. For many of us, participating in this collective production of scholarship—a “labor of love”, if you will—has been one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of our graduate career. Much of the work we do (and will do) in academia is done alone, and that may always be the case. But these past two years proved that another model is also possible, one built on collaboration and sustained by common purpose and commitment. If all goes as planned, the seeds of this collective enterprise will bear fruit in the form a book published next year.

Happy end of semester and many thanks to Christine Williams

The end of the semester party was a perfect opportunity to surprise the fabulous Dr. Christine Williams, who will complete her term as Chairperson of the Sociology department in August.  Many thanks to Christine for her hard work on behalf of our community and special thanks to Dr. Deb Umberson and Julie Kniseley for pulling off the surprise!  Our incoming chairperson Dr. Rob Crosnoe presents the commemorative plaque on behalf of all of us.

Marc Musick: Rape prevention requires campuses to control what they can

Mandatory 11 p.m. classes, a requirement that students had to live on campus for orientation, and repeated messaging that if you see something, do something. Those were some of the changes my colleagues and I at the University of Texas at Austin implemented last summer in an effort to keep students safe during our summer orientation, well before the recent call by the White House for greater attention to sexual assault on college campuses.

As professors, administrators and, perhaps most importantly, parents, we knew it was essential to run an orientation that put safety first for our newest and most vulnerable students. But the unfortunate reality is that universities have limited means for policing conduct that sometimes occurs away from campus. Even with a clear- eyed recognition of the problem, change sometimes requires creative solutions that seek to identify the places where a university does have control. So changing what we could control is exactly what we did.

As noted in the report released by the White House Council on Women and Girls, many rapes occur at parties that are fueled by alcohol. At UT, these parties frequently happen in off-campus locations, thus limiting our possible responses. Criminologists have long understood that crime is not a simple function of the behaviors and intentions of perpetrators, nor is it simply about choices that victims make. Instead, situations create opportunities for crime, and we had to find a way to cut down on these opportunities. Simply telling 18-year-olds not to go to parties or to be careful when they did was not enough.

In the summer of 2012, we undertook a careful examination of how off-campus activities affect students who attend our summer orientation. We instituted several major changes that we hoped would cut down on opportunities that might endanger our students. We required that students live on campus for orientation. We required students to attend an 11 p.m. meeting each night of orientation, a period that conflicts with the timing of most off-campus parties. What was the motivation for students to attend these late-night classes? Only regular attendance at these night meetings preserved the students’ access to priority registration slots, which was a major reason students attended orientation in the first place.

Orientation had always included a mandatory session on campus safety, but last session we also included repeated messages about the importance of bystander intervention. Using the tag line, “I saw something, I did something,” we created a video with UT students that emphasized the need for all of us to look out for one another. By repeating our bystander intervention message through videos, small-group discussions, speeches and other programs, we hoped to shift the culture, so that students would come to believe that it is their job to look out for one another.

The results were dramatic: more than 99 percent of our orientation students attended those late night meetings, attendance at our other evening events increased significantly, and, most importantly, we cut down on opportunities for risk. Although we do not have hard data on the full effect of these changes, we heard nothing but positive stories from this past summer’s program.

I know that we, as a higher education community, have a long way to go. But with Vice President Joe Biden’s recent remarks on these issues and the guidelines put forth by the White House task force, I have hope that we will see progress.

As the students featured in our bystander intervention video proclaim, “At UT, we take care of each other.” I firmly believe that if all students across the country heard and practiced that message, and other universities adopted the same kinds of changes that we did at UT, we would be on a firm path to eliminating campus rape across the country.

Musick formerly directed summer orientation for all incoming freshmen students at the University of Texas at Austin. He is an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and a professor of sociology.

Spring 2014 Spider House Celebration

We’ve had so much good news this semester, it’s hard not to celebrate!

Anima Adjepong – Michael H. Granof Outstanding Thesis Award

Jorge Derpic –  Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, Oxford University (£13,000) and the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) Fellowship (25K, approx.)

Jessica Dunning Lozano – $25,000 National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year.  Since only thirty awards were made from a pool of over 400 applicants, this award is a strong expression of the organizations’ confidence in your potential contribution to the history, theory, or practice of education.

David McClendon – University Continuing Named Fellowship – full year of support

Eve Pattison –  $15,000 Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards (PSA) was established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral level degree at an accredited college or university. She was sponsored by Chapter CR of Austin, TX.

Marcos Perez: National Science Foundation  – $15,000

Vivian Shaw – Japan Foundation’s “Japanese-Language Program for Specialists in Cultural and Academic Fields” (6-month residential language program, tuition, accommodations, and other funding).

Chelsea Smith –  Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being—seeking innovations to prevent child abuse and neglect. $50,000 over two years.

Esther Sullivan – American Fellowships from the American Association of University Women. This is a $20,000 award for doctoral candidates in any field of study, and another $2,500 for outstanding field research.

Amina Zarrugh –  University Continuing Named Fellowship – full year of support

LLILAS Honors Professor Bryan Roberts

The Sociology department shares several distinguished faculty members with the  LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections. Dr. Bryan Roberts has made an unparalleled contribution to the scholarship and communities of both and will sorely missed when he retires in December. Please take a moment to honor Dr. Roberts by viewing the tribute from LLILAS’ “International Colloquium on Social Citizenship in honor of Professor Bryan R. Roberts”

21-1024x576From Sociology Department Faculty, University of Texas at Austin

Bryan’s intellectual breadth, his natural curiosity, his international background and education, in combination with his extremely easy manner, infused the Department’s Latin American area with vitality and humanism for over thirty years. He contributed to far more than one area, though. He is a Sociologist in the best European and American traditions and his work combines deep theoretical insights and solid empirical work. He deeply touched the lives of hundreds of students and colleagues and he leaves a legacy that will animate the department and Latin American studies at UT Austin for years.
–Ron Angel, Professor of Sociology

First-hand witness to momentous transformations in Latin America, Bryan Roberts was able to make sense of them by deftly combining on-the-ground observations with high level theorization. Anybody studying urbanization, citizenship, or development in the continent is now standing on this sociological giant’s shoulders.
–Javier Auyero, Professor of Sociology

Bryan Roberts is an exemplary scholar who has had a crucial influence in the sociology of Latin America and in making UT a leader in the field. In addition to his own scholarly contributions to research on urbanization, migration, inequality, development, employment and informality in the region, Bryan has been a champion of bringing scholars from the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking worlds together. He has published extensively in both languages and, most importantly, he has led a number of collaborative research projects with Latin American scholars. The comparative nature of these projects has been crucial for the understanding of long term changes in Latin American cities. He has always tied detailed micro analysis of community change to the macro transformations experienced by the region. Bryan regularly returned to the communities in Guatemala were he conducted his early fieldwork in the late 1960s and 1970s to observe first-hand the changes brought by neoliberalism to those communities. As LLILAS director from 2006 to 2009, he expanded his commitment to collaborative research with Latin America and brought universities and research institutes in the region closer to UT. This also explains the huge number of friends he has made and the respect he commands in the world of Latin American social sciences.
–Daniel Fridman, Assistant Professor of Sociology

For those of us who have studied migration related topics he is definitely ‘maestro de maestros’ — he has mentored some of the most influential maestras and maestros in immigration studies in the social sciences. He is a kind spirit and will be missed.
–Gloria Gonzalez Lopez, Associate Professor of Sociology

Bryan has made enormous contributions to the Department of Sociology for nearly three decades and perhaps especially so in the graduate program. He has directed dozens of dissertations and served on many masters and dissertation committees. Over the years, he has given great attention to helping his students write high-quality dissertations and placing them into productive academic and non-academic positions following graduation. Perhaps most important, Bryan has been a model colleague and mentor. He is incredibly productive and smart, yet humble. He takes his work very seriously, but also has a great sense of humor and does not allow the seriousness of his work to override the joy with which he lives his life. He’s an academic superstar, yet he always pitches in to do his share of the grunt work that departments need to get done. And he gets along with everyone; he’s a genuinely nice, fair, and kind person who is as well liked and respected as it gets. Thank you Bryan…for all of your contributions, for one, but more than that, for being the humble, humorous, fun, hard-working, down-to-earth, fair, and kind person that you are. You will be missed.
–Bob Hummer, Professor of Sociology

Bryan has done an outstanding job opening roads for research in Latin America. In towns that I have visited in Mexico, Central America, and South America, people told me that Bryan had been there earlier. It is a privilege to follow in his footsteps.
–Nestor Rodriguez, Professor of Sociology

For almost thirty years, Bryan Roberts has anchored the program in Latin American Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Less well-known to outsiders, he has also been a mainstay of our programs in Sociological Theory and Ethnographic Research Methods. Bryan taught generations of qualitative researchers at UT. He is a multi-faceted scholar who communicates across scholarly divisions of geography, theory, and methodology. His geniality and collegiality have made the Sociology Department an exceptional place to work.
–Christine Williams, Professor and Chair of Sociology

International remittances, women entrepreneurs, and social capital in Zacatecas, Mexico

By Anna Banchik

business_clinics_jerez Mexico receives approximately $20 billion (USD) in remittances from the U.S. annually (Rey 2013), an amount roughly equal to the total GDP1 of Nicaragua in 2010 (International Monetary Fund 2013). Remittances are a crucial source of income for many Mexican families who depend on these funds sent by migrants to cover basic needs, pay for expenditures related to health and education, and finance their investments. Indeed, due to their local injection of capital, remittances are often hailed as potential pathways to spur economic development in receptive communities (Márquez-Covarrubias 2010). However, it may be surprising to learn that only 2% of remittances sent to Mexico are estimated to be directed towards business investment (Ramírez, Pérez, and Hernández 2011). Why are so few of these remittances being used to catalyze small business formation? And, what are some of the barriers migrants and their families confront in attempting to create small businesses and keep them afloat?

A variety of factors are found to encourage or inhibit the establishment and growth of local economic projects in Mexico by migrants and their families. One study finds positive correlations between the creation of informal businesses, local economic dynamism, and the length of migrant stays abroad, as well as positive correlations between the establishment of formal businesses and the size of the community in which the business is based (Sheehan 2011). Another study (Mummert 2005) evaluates business formation by migrants through the influence of two forms of capital: 1) the human capital (i.e. skills, knowledge) they acquired while in the U.S. and 2) their social capital (i.e. their potential to accrue benefits by virtue of their participation in social networks) (Portes 2008).

A little understood aspect of this line of research, however, is the usage of household remittances by women entrepreneurs in the establishment and maintenance of their own microenterprises. The relevance of gender is significant, as women accounted for 52% of all small business proprietors in Mexico in 2012, according to the Encuesta Nacional de Micronegocios (ENAMIN), the country’s national survey on microenterprises (INEGI/STPS 2013). Like other benefits or products of social capital, the reception of remittances is a resource acquired by virtue of one’s linkages to family and social networks. Thus, the investigation of remittance reception and investment by women entrepreneurs through a lens of social capital permits a broader, systematic evaluation of the varied resources that women entrepreneurs obtain through social networks and use for the advancement of economic activities.

Existing literature on the social capital activation of women entrepreneurs indicates that social networks—particularly family relations and other strong ties—indeed play a crucial role in the formation of microenterprises and economic projects formed by women (Katz and Williams 1997, Greve and Salaff 2003). For instance, compared to their male counterparts, self-employed women have been found to derive more use from their family relationships and informal social networks in the establishment of a business (Greve and Salaff 2003). This is, in part, due to women’s relative lack of access to formal business networks (Ibarra 1993). Strong family bonds and norms of reciprocity are especially instrumental in the formation and administration of many women-run microenterprises in Mexico. Here it is common for goods, services, and credit to be circulated throughout the extended, multi-generational family (Villagómez 2003). Furthermore, family members may play an active role in the operations of the microenterprise by realizing daily tasks or performing other activities such as maintenance of the locale, often without monetary compensation (Arteaga 2003). Strong family involvement is especially present in lesser developed microenterprises and those run by women in low-income families (Suárez and Bonfil 2003).

These topics—international remittances, women entrepreneurs, and social capital—constitute the axes of my current research in Zacatecas, Mexico. In particular, the investigation focuses on the importance of household contributions of U.S. remittances, as well as the acquisition of other forms of support (monetary and non-monetary) obtained by the dueñas (women owners) through their social networks, in the establishment and maintenance of the microenterprises.

The concept of social capital comprises the foundation of my analytic framework. Consequently, I will be comparing the structures, quality of trust, and norms of reciprocity characterizing the social networks which constitute four separate “dimensions” of social capital: 1) the family (within and outside of the household unit), 2) networks of friends, neighbors, and compadrazgo (relationships of co-parenting common among families in Latin America), 3) participation in voluntary associations, and 4) links with governmental institutions. I will also consider the relationships between the women’s socio-demographic characteristics with their remittance reception, social capital activation, and the development of the microenterprise.

An important aspect of the research is its geographic focus on Zacatecas, a state which is characterized by historic emigration and significant reception of familial and collective remittances. It is calculated that currently there are more people of Zacatecan origin residing in the U.S. than in Zacatecas itself (Delgado, Márquez-Covarrubias, and Rodríguez 2004). Due to a history of massive regional emigration driven by intense worker recruitment from U.S. firms at the beginning of the 20th century, this northern central Mexican state is the site of well-established international migratory networks (Durand 2010). Over the last half century, these networks have spawned Zacatecan migrant clubs and federations in the U.S. which connect migrants with their local communities in Mexico and, in some cases, enable the political participation and representation of their migrant members from abroad (Delgado, Márquez-Covarrubias, and Rodríguez 2004). By leveraging collective remittances with matching government funds (as in the Three for One Program2), these clubs and federations have also succeeded in coordinating the construction of thousands of public works projects in Zacatecan sending communities (Delgado, Márquez-Covarrubias, and Rodríguez 2004).

Familial remittances also play a significant role in the household economy in Zacatecas. In the year 2000, 13% of households in Zacatecas (approximately 40,000 in total) received remittances (Guerrero 2007: 13). Among these households, remittances constituted an average of 61.9% of total household income, were a principal source of income for 61.5% of households (constituting more than 50% of household income), and were the only source of income for 34.8% of these households (Delgado, Márquez-Covarrubias, and Rodríguez 2004).

In order to prepare for my investigation, I have been conducting preliminary research at the Institute for Social Investigations (Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales) at the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City. Living in Mexico City has afforded me ample opportunities to learn about and connect with grassroots organizations working with migrant-sending families and communities all over the country. I am especially excited, however, to begin my upcoming fieldwork in Zacatecas, which will consist of implementing surveys with selected women entrepreneurs and conducting in-depth interviews with a diverse sample of survey participants. In better understanding the remittance investment and social capital activation of women entrepreneurs in Zacatecas, Mexico, we will be better equipped to answer important questions evaluating the roles of migration and women entrepreneurship in local economic development.

This blog post was contributed by Anna Veronica Banchik, a current Fulbright Scholar in Mexico who will be joining the Department of Sociology at UT-Austin this fall 2014. Her current research is sponsored by a Fulbright García-Robles grant, as well as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Feel free to contact her directly with questions and/or comments at
Arteaga, Catalina. 2003. “Dinámica interna y redes sociales en micronegocios familiares: Un análisis a partir del caso de Mesa de los Hornos.” In Microempresas familiares en el contexto urbano, edited by Blanca Suárez and Paloma Bonfil, 215-241. México: Grupo Interdisciplinario sobre Mujer, Trabajo y Pobreza.

Delgado Wise, Raúl, Humberto Márquez-Covarrubias, and Hector Rodríguez Ramírez. 2004. “Organizaciones transnacionales de migrantes y desarrollo regional en Zacatecas.” Migraciones internacionales 4: 159-181.

Durand, Jorge. 2010. “Origen y destino de una migración centenaria.” In El país transnacional: Migración mexicana y cambio social a través de la frontera, edited by Marina Ariza and Alejandro Portes, 55-81. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Instituto Nacional de Migración/ Centro de Estudios Migratorios, and Miguel Ángel Porrúa.

García Zamora, Rodolfo. 2007. “El Programa Tres por Uno de remesas colectivas en México.” Migraciones Internacionales 1: 165-172.

Greve, Arent and Janet W. Salaff. 2003. “Social Networks and Entrepreneurship.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 1: 1-22.
Guerrero Ortiz, Martha. 2007. “Percepción de remesas de los hogares y condición migratoria en Zacatecas, 2000-2005.” Revista Electrónica Zacatecana sobre Población y Sociedad 31: 1-20.

Ibarra, Herminia. 1993. “Personal networks of women and minorities in management: A conceptual framework.” Academy of Management Review 18: 56-87.

INEGI/ STPS. 2013. Resultados de la Encuesta Nacional de Micronegocios 2012. [press release] July 23, 2013. Aguascalientes: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) and the Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social (STPS).

International Monetary Fund. 2013. “World Economic Outlook (WEO) Database October 2013.” Accessed March 2, 2014.

Katz, Jerome and Pamela Williams. 1997. “Gender, self-employment and weak-tie networking through formal organization.” Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 3: 183-198.

Márquez-Covarrubias, Humberto. 2010. “Responsabilizar a los migrantes del desarrollo: lecciones del laboratorio social zacatecano.” Economía, Sociedad y Territorio 32: 99-141.

Mummert, Gail. 2005. “Capital humano y capital social en el lanzamiento de microempresas de migrantes michoacanos.” In Remesas y Desarrollo en México, edited by Jerjes I. Aguirre Ochoa and Oscar Hugo Pedraza Rendón, 325-340. Morelia: Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo/ El Colegio de Tlaxcala.

Portes, Alejandro. 1998. “Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology.” Annual Review of Sociology 24: 1-24.

Ramírez Calvillo, Rodolfo, Oscar Pérez Veyna and Francisco Hernández Zavala. 2011. “Los proyectos productivos financiados con remesas y el 3X1 en los municipios zacatecanos y sus formas de organización.” Conciencia Tecnológica 41: 13-21.

Rey Mallén, Patricia. 2013. “Remittances worldwide increase in 2013, except for Mexico; Is the US crisis hurting the Mexican economy?” International Business Times. October 11. Accessed February 25, 2014.

Sheehan, Connor. 2011. “Migration and informal versus formal business creation in Mexico.” Master’s thesis, University of Colorado-Boulder. Boulder: ProQuest/UMI. (Publication No. AAT 1499953.)

Suárez, Blanca and Paloma Bonfil. 2003. “Introducción.” In Microempresas familiares urbanas, edited by Blanca Suárez and Paloma Bonfil, 9-23. Mexico: Grupo Interdisciplinario sobre Mujer, Trabajo y Pobreza.

Villagómez Valdés, Gina. 2003. “Los negocios de la pobreza femenina: Microempresa, género y familia en Yucatán.” In Microempresas familiares en el contexto urbano, edited by Blanca Suárez and Paloma Bonfil, 243-293. Mexico: Grupo Interdisciplinario sobre Mujer, Trabajo y Pobreza.

1 At purchasing power parity, or PPP.
2 In this program, each dollar sent to a community in Zacatecas by a migrant club or federation in the U.S. is matched one dollar by each level of government (i.e. the municipal, state, and federal governments). Public works projects realized through the financing of this program include the construction and repair of basic infrastructure, churches, parks, and other public spaces. From 1993 to 2005, an estimated $60 million (USD) financed 1,500 projects in Zacatecas (García 2007).

Fun with our prospective 2014 cohort members

It’s always exciting to recruit new colleagues and greet the spring in Austin. We hope to see many of our visitors back in 2014 to begin a new semester and another 100 years of Sociology! Future colleagues, when choosing among your many options, consider these wise words.

Re)Membering the Body: the 21st Annual Conference on Emerging Scholarship in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Re)Membering the Body: the 21st Annual Conference on Emerging Scholarship in Women’s and Gender Studies.

From March 20-21, 2014


The CWGS graduate student run conference offers both undergraduate and graduate students at any recognized university the opportunity to share their research highlighting issues in women’s, gender, and/or sexuality studies with the students and faculty affiliates of CWGS, The University of Texas at Austin community, and CWGS community partners.

CWGS’s 2013-2014 conference theme is “(Re)Membering the Body.” What are the limits of history and memory? How do we remember/recover that which the archive has erased? What are the implications of embodied history, embodied storytelling, embodied memory? Proposals for papers or posters that address these questions (or pose related ones) using the lenses of gender, race, sexuality, ability, performance or other feminist, womanist, queer or anti-racist methodologies will be presented. Abstracts of Presentations

Latinos in an Aging World

by Ronald and Jacqueline Angel, July 31, 2014, Routledge.

AngelCover In 2010 during a speech in Potsdam, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the audience that the nation’s attempt to create a multicultural society had been an utter failure.  During his failed 2012 reelection campaign President Nicholas Sarkozy of France proclaimed that France had too many immigrants.  Recently, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain pledged to restrict the use of social services by immigrants.  These are only three examples of the growing rejection of foreigners and the threat to national cultures and identities that they represent that is a growing part of political discourse in Europe.  The nations of Europe are having to face the fact that they are increasingly multicultural and are heavily dependent on immigrants from the developing world, yet that reality is not easy for many to accept.  The fact that many of the newcomers are Muslim adds to the fear and rejection.

Unlike Europe, the United States has always thought of itself as a nation of immigrants, although new arrivals have not always been welcomed warmly by those who came earlier.  Immigration to the United States is not new, but its nature has changed.  Today immigrants come from Latin America and Asia rather than from Europe.  The result is a truly multicultural nation in which race and ethnicity intersect social class and other factors to influence various groups’ wealth and political power.

Although many Latinos have been in the United States for generations, much media coverage and political reporting focuses on immigrants, and many Latinos remain outside of the economic and social mainstream for generations.  As in Europe, many Americans fear the newcomer and like Political Scientist Samuel Huntington believe that Latinos are not assimilating as did previous immigrants, and that they reject the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream and are creating separate societies that threatens the nation’s cultural unity.

After thirty years of research on and writing about Latinos and other vulnerable populations we  have written our first textbook, which is scheduled for release on August 1, 2014 by Routledge.  The book consists of ten chapters that deal with all aspects the Latino experience in the United states.  It deals with demographics, education, employment, wealth, and income for the major Latino subgroups and compares them to Asians, African-Americans, and non-Hispanic whites.  The book also deals with social and psychological issues related to neighborhood quality, fear of crime, and the determinants of well-being.  It summarizes the most current and authoritative research on Latinos available and presents some of our more recent work.

The book takes a life course perspective on the welfare of the Latino population.  Low levels of education early in life lead to restricted employment opportunities, low income, little wealth accumulation, and inadequate retirement savings.  Since the Latino population is aging rapidly, the book deals with issues related to family structure and the sources of care for older parents.  Latinos depend heavily on their family for care and support in old age and tend not to enter nursing homes.  The book summarizes findings on the phenomenon of “caregiver burden,” a term that refers to the physical and psychological demands associated with caring for a seriously ill parent.

One might ask about the process of writing a book, especially a co-authored book.  This is the fourth book that we have written together, so we have some insights.  The fact of the matter is that it is not always smooth sailing.  Writing a book, or even an article with anyone requires a logical division of labor that capitalizes on everyone’s strengths, as well as a willingness not to have everything one’s own way.  Determining what those strengths are and how they complement others is a necessary first step.  Luckily, after four books and numerous articles we seem to have found the formula.  We would be happy to talk to anyone about the topic or the process of writing or finding a publisher.

Statement from the Chair regarding Professor Regnerus

Like all faculty, Dr. Regnerus has the right to pursue his areas of research and express his point of view. However, Dr. Regnerus’ opinions are his own. They do not reflect the views of the Sociology Department of The University of Texas at Austin. Nor do they reflect the views of the American Sociological Association, which takes the position that the conclusions he draws from his study of gay parenting are fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and that findings from Dr. Regnerus’ work have been cited inappropriately in efforts to diminish the civil rights and legitimacy of LBGTQ partners and their families. We encourage society as a whole to evaluate his claims.

The Sociology Department at The University of Texas at Austin aspires to achieve academic excellence in research, teaching, and public service at the highest level in our discipline. We strive to do so in a context that is based on the highest ethical standards of our discipline and in a context that actively promotes and supports diversity among our faculty and student populations.

The Sociology Department resides in the College of Liberal Arts, which has issued a statement regarding Dr. Regnerus.

The Sociology Department has no affiliation with the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture.