Mexican Immigrant Communities in the South and Social Capital: The Case of Dalton, Georgia (Working Paper #64)
Rúben Hernández-León, University of California – Los Angeles
Víctor Zúniga, Universidad de Monterrey
Abstract: During the 1990s, the South became a major new destination for Mexican and other Latino settled immigration. This paper contends that as Mexican immigrants have moved in sizable numbers to atypical destinations, they have also mobilized social capital and funds of knowledge from the historical concentrations of Latino settlement (i.e. Los Angeles and Chicago) to new areas, such as the South. Using qualitative and descriptive quantitative data collected in Dalton, Georgia, a small city located in the southern Appalachia region, this article shows how previously accumulated social capital and funds of knowledge are facilitating settlement with collective and individual level consequences. At the community level, this access to social capital is compressing the timing of the migratory cycle, accelerating incorporation. At the individual level, one significant outcome is the rapid rise of ethnic entrepreneurship, which in turn fosters differentiation within the immigrant community.