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Transnationalism as a New Mode of Immigrant Labor Market Incorporation: Preliminary Evidence from Chinese Transnational Migrants

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Extending the three now well-known modes of immigrant labor market incorporation formulated by sociologist Alejandro Portes in 1981, this article proposes that transnationalism can be viewed as a new mode of immigrant labor market incorporation in the age of globalization. The article conceptualizes this new mode of immigrant incorporation and illustrates it with data from unstructured interviews of Chinese transnational migrants in the US and in China. It is found that the transnational mode of incorporation often offers Chinese transnational migrants business and career opportunities and rewards not available in other modes of incorporation, although it sometimes involves risks, uncertainties, and difficulties. Chinese transmigrants with a higher initial social standing, an advanced training, and a dense network are more likely to experience upward social mobility than those without such advantages. Implications of the arguments and findings are also discussed.


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