81.2 Institutional arrangements and social capital: Brazilian immigrants in Japan and their chances for upward mobility

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:05 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Hirohisa TAKENOSHITA , Sociology, Shizuoka University, Shizuoka, Japan
Previous literatures on immigration have highlighted the important role social capital of immigrants played in international migration and in adaptation into the host society. American immigration scholars emphasized the importance of bonding social capital with coethnics and families. Some immigrant groups establish ethnic enclave, where immigrant entrepreneurs are spatially concentrated, and they provide newly arrived immigrants with jobs and training opportunities. In contrast, several immigration scholars in Europe suggested that the manner in which immigrants deploy different forms of social capital depends on institutional context in which immigrants are incorporated. For instance, in Sweden, as citizenship and welfare policies for immigrants provide unemployed migrant workers with a sufficient amount of information and resources that help them get a new job, immigrants do not need to rely on social capital. In addition, bonding social capital may not help immigrants living outside the ethnic enclave and ethnic economy. In several countries where a small proportion of immigrants are entrepreneurs, bridging social capital with the mainstream population plays a greater role in connecting immigrants to useful information in the larger society. This paper focuses on Brazilian immigrants in Japan because little is known about the role of immigrant’s social capital in different institutional settings outside North American and European countries. Institutional characters specific to Japan include the increasing segmentation and polarization of the labor market between the primary and the secondary sector. Japanese Brazilian immigrants have been incorporated into the highly unstable, temporary employment sector controlled by labor dispatching agencies, while citizenship and welfare policies for immigrants are lacking in Japan. Given these institutional contexts of Brazilian immigrants in Japan, I examine whether and to what extent different forms of social capital such as bonding and bridging affect the likelihood of transition into the stable employment sector.