Immigrant associations are often assumed to be social phenomena already ‘out there’, while their developmental trajectories and social roots are relatively understudied. Much literature has explored their contribution to the socio-political integration of newcomers, lumping together all of their non-political activities as ‘co-ethnic sociability’. However, their micro-social roots deserve more attention, and the identity and symbolic dimensions of their initiatives are worth investigating further. Based on a literature review and an ethnography of a group of Ecuadorians living in Northern Italy, we revisit the factors affecting the development of immigrant associations as well as their primary fields of activity. While these associations are expressive of immigrants’ cultural backgrounds and basically deal with informal sociability, they also have an implicitly political dimension, as they mirror immigrants’ struggle for public visibility and recognition. A better appreciation of the political significance of immigrant associations (despite their shortcomings and political marginality), and of their evolving roots, is necessary to understand why, and how, newcomers such as the Ecuadorians in our case study may (or may not) join them.

One (Slender) Tree, Many (Social) Roots: Revisiting Immigrant Associations Through a Case Study on Ecuadorians in Italy / Boccagni, Paolo; Pilati, Katia. - In: JOURNAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY. - ISSN 1744-8689. - STAMPA. - 2015:(2015). [10.1080/17448689.2015.1019180]

One (Slender) Tree, Many (Social) Roots: Revisiting Immigrant Associations Through a Case Study on Ecuadorians in Italy

Boccagni, Paolo;Pilati, Katia
2015

Abstract

Immigrant associations are often assumed to be social phenomena already ‘out there’, while their developmental trajectories and social roots are relatively understudied. Much literature has explored their contribution to the socio-political integration of newcomers, lumping together all of their non-political activities as ‘co-ethnic sociability’. However, their micro-social roots deserve more attention, and the identity and symbolic dimensions of their initiatives are worth investigating further. Based on a literature review and an ethnography of a group of Ecuadorians living in Northern Italy, we revisit the factors affecting the development of immigrant associations as well as their primary fields of activity. While these associations are expressive of immigrants’ cultural backgrounds and basically deal with informal sociability, they also have an implicitly political dimension, as they mirror immigrants’ struggle for public visibility and recognition. A better appreciation of the political significance of immigrant associations (despite their shortcomings and political marginality), and of their evolving roots, is necessary to understand why, and how, newcomers such as the Ecuadorians in our case study may (or may not) join them.
Boccagni, Paolo; Pilati, Katia
One (Slender) Tree, Many (Social) Roots: Revisiting Immigrant Associations Through a Case Study on Ecuadorians in Italy / Boccagni, Paolo; Pilati, Katia. - In: JOURNAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY. - ISSN 1744-8689. - STAMPA. - 2015:(2015). [10.1080/17448689.2015.1019180]
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