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elliott - Ghettos and Barrios The Impact of Neighborhood...

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SOCIAL PROBLEMS, Vol. 48, No. 3, pages 341–361. ISSN: 0037-7791; online ISSN: 1553-8533 © 2001 by Society for the Study of Social Problems, Inc. All rights reserved. Send requests for permission to reprint to: Rights and Permissions, University of California Press, Journals Division, 2000 Center St., Ste. 303, Berkeley, CA 94704-1223. Ghettos and Barrios: The Impact of Neighborhood Poverty and Race on Job Matching among Blacks and Latinos JAMES R. ELLIOTT, Tulane University MARIO SIMS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Recent research suggests that racial and poverty concentrations in urban neighborhoods in uence how minorities look for and nd jobs. In this study, we use data from the Multi-City Survey of Urban Inequality to examine this hypothesis, focusing on the use and return to various modes of job matching among blacks and Lat- inos in different residential contexts. Results show that while Latinos are generally more likely than blacks to acquire jobs through personal contacts, this racial difference shrinks considerably in very poor, coethnic neigh- borhoods (i.e., ghettos and barrios). However, results also indicate that within these respective neighborhood con- texts, Latinos are signi cantly more likely than blacks to use neighbors and eventual coworkers to acquire jobs; whereas blacks are more likely to use residential and organizational “outsiders.” We speculate that this qualita- tive difference in the type of contacts used in barrios, as opposed to ghettos, affects the extent to which individual success with informal job matching contributes to the development of a collective resource that can be used by other job seekers in the neighborhood. A long line of research in the sociology of labor markets established that individuals often acquire jobs through personal contacts rather than through formal channels (see Granovetter 1995 for a recent review). In other words, whom you know shapes your potential for employ- ment and mobility, particularly toward the bottom of urban labor markets (Elliott 2000). Recently this argument has been invoked to understand the deleterious effects of disadvantaged neighborhoods on working-age, minority residents. Wilson (1987, 1996), for example, argued that poor, predominantly black neighborhoods tend to isolate workers from social contacts needed to succeed in today’s urban labor markets, serving to reinforce pre-existing inequalities and contribute to the growth of an urban underclass. The recent and widespread appeal of this argument masks the fact that we still know rel- atively little about the intersection of race, place, and job matching. In part, this de ciency stems from recent preoccupations with “spatial mismatches” of available jobs and inner-city job seekers—preoccupations that downplay the social mechanisms by which individuals actually learn about and acquire employment. When these social mechanisms are highlighted, evi- dence continues to underscore the importance of personal networks for nding work. For
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