An ethnic enclave is a sociologist term to describe immigrant groups which concentrate in a distinct spatial location, organize a variety of enterprises which serve their own ethnic market and/or the general population. Some immigrants live and work in the enclave. Examples of these included Little Italy and Chinatowns.

Implications of this theory are that segregations is not always costly. Ethnic enclaves behave much like the primary labor marker (employers have privileged access to a special labor force; workers have unique opportunities to make it within the ethnic enclave).

The enclaves are sources of ethnic solidarity: ethnic employers are obliged to reserve supervisory positions for ethnic employers and they provide opportunities for upward mobility. Portes studied a Cuban community in Miami shows that Cuban immigrants do fare better within the ethnic enclave.

But, there are also sources of class tension, as Victor Nee pointed out (1987). He noted that ethnic enclaves benefit employers, but not workers. In Asian American enclaves, for example, immigrant entrepreneurs provide their employees with particularly harsh and exploitative work environments.

    information taken from notes on sociology lecture

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