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The Fluidity of Human Capital: Theorizing the Relationship between Religion and Immigration

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Researchers have commented on recent shifts in immigration in the United States, focusing primarily on either how well new immigrants integrate into the American economy or how poorly they integrate into American culture. In general, scholars have tended to ignore the dynamic relationship between immigrants’ cultural belief systems and their integration into the United States’ economy. In this paper, I begin to develop a theoretical map that links these two areas by focusing on the interrelationship of cultural beliefs and socioeconomic conditions of immigrants. I concentrate on religion as a cultural phenomenon that both constrains and enables systems of social relations, specifically examining recent Jewish and Muslim immigrants in the United States. I consider theories proposed by Bourdieu and Wallerstein for understanding religion and immigration, and then discuss ways in which this area might be further investigated.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL 60626 USA, Email:


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