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The Changing Structure of Structural Assimilation: White-Collar Mexican Ethnicity and the Significance of Ethnic Identity Professional Organizations


  • *Direct correspondence to Thomas Macias, Department of Sociology, 31 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05405-0176 〈〉. I will share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. I would like to thank Miguel Ceballos, Mitch Duneier, Jennifer Eggerling-Boeck, Pamela Oliver, Devah Pager, and Gary D. Sandefur for their helpful comments on earlier drafts. This research was supported by a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation (SES-0101091).


Objective. This article examines the experience of ethnicity among third-plus generation Mexican-American professionals at the workplace and through participation in ethnic identity professional organizations.

Methods. A total of 25 face-to-face interviews were conducted in the San Jose, California metro area. Interviewees were initially recruited from two ethnic identity professional organizations.

Results. The predicted confluence of acculturation with structural assimilation is supported by the responses of Mexican-American professionals who acknowledge the social pressure to conform to dominant culture expectations. However, changes in the structure of structural assimilation since 1965 related to the emergence of identity politics have meant integration into society's dominant institutions no longer requires the exchange of ethnic for professional identities.

Conclusions. Ethnic identity professional organizations provide a key source of ethnic networking for Mexican-American professionals who typically find themselves in work settings with low levels of minority representation.