Marriage As a Social Resource: Distinctions Among Immigrants In Japan

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Tristan IVORY , Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Classic studies on immigration to traditional receiving destinations describe intermarriage with native-born populations as one of the final steps towards group assimilation (Gordon 1964; Bogardus 1968; Barth 1969). Although aspects of this argument have been complicated (Alba and Golden 1986; Song 2009) or revised (Kalmijn 1993; Rosenfeld, 2001), the basic premise has remained intact (Qian and Lichter 2001; Cherlin 2004; Waters and Jimenéz 2005). Research on new receiving destinations, however, has been much less conclusive about the nature and sequence of native-born/immigrant intermarriage within the process of group assimilation (Kalmijn 1998). Using interview and observational data gathered from the Sub-Saharan African population residing in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Region between July 2011 and August 2012, I show that marriage is substantially different across two distinct classes of migrants. For migrants incorporated as low-skilled or non-credentialed laborers, marriage to native-born individuals is the first step towards assimilation because it is the fastest, most readily available avenue for obtaining legal long-term residence in Japan. For migrants incorporated as high-skilled or professional laborers, stability of legal status and comparatively broad access to human capital and social networks results in a less instrumental mate-selection process and increases the likelihood of marriage to non native-born individuals. The segmented nature of immigrant/native-born intermarriage in Japan highlights the importance context- and country-specific factors play in understanding intermarriage and the process of group assimilation.