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TOWARD A THEORY OF PANETHNICITY 811 Toward a Theory of Panethnicity: Explaining Asian American Collective Action Dina G. Okamoto University of California, Davis This analysis extends theoretical models of ethnic boundary formation to account for the shifting and layered nature of ethnic boundaries. It focuses on the underlying structural conditions that facilitate the expansion of ethnic boundaries or the con- struction of a pan-national identity, and explores how organizing along an ethnic boundary affects collective efforts at the panethnic level. Two processes could be occurring: (1) Competition with other ethnic or racial groups could lead groups with different national origins to engage in collective action based on a pan-na- tional boundary, or (2) occupational segregation could foster pan-national interests and networks that lead groups to participate in pan-national collective action. Using a new longitudinal data set of collective action events involving Asian Americans, the analyses indicate that the segregation of Asians as a group raises the frequency of pan-national collective action, while the segregation among Asian subgroups depresses the rate of pan-Asian collective action. The results also show that intra- group competition discourages pan-Asian collective action, and organizing along ethnic lines generally facilitates it. Overall, these findings are consistent with the cultural division of labor theory, which suggests that segregation processes influ- ence panethnic collective action due to intragroup interaction, common economic interests, and membership in a community of fate. migrants resist racial categorization and em- phasize ethnic identities that are culturally distinct from American blacks. Similarly, Padilla (1985) finds that identity options for Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Mexican Ameri- cans are based on national origin and the larger, panethnic boundary of Latino, but these two levels of ethnic identification are often complicated by differences in language (Spanish vs. non-Spanish speaking) and im- migration histories. Under what conditions, then, are distinct national-origin groups who often differ in language, culture, religion, and immigration status, able to construct a pan-national identity and organize collec- ecent research has docu- mented a curious phenomenon among ethnic and racial groups: the “layering” of ethnic identities that enables the expansion and contraction of ethnic boundaries. Ethnic identities based on national-origin bound- aries can shift upward to be based on a pan- national boundary. For example, Waters (1994, 1999) finds that under some circum- stances, West Indian immigrants identify as black, acknowledging their similarities to native-born blacks in both color and ances- try. At other times, however, these same im- R Direct all correspondence to Dina G. Okamoto, Department of Sociology, 1282 Social Sciences and Humanities Buildling, University of Califor- nia, Davis, Davis, CA 95616 (dgokamoto@ ucdavis. edu). I thank Michael Hechter, Lynn Smith-Lovin, Sarah Soule, Sun-Ki Chai, and
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2011 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Grindel during the Spring '11 term at UC Merced.

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