From White-Collar Occupations to Small Business: Korean Immigrants' Occupational Adjustment*


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    This paper is based on the data gathered for this author's dissertation research. I would like to express thanks to anonymous reviewers of The Sociological Quarterly for their helpful comments on the earlier draft of this paper.


Previous studies indicate that about one-third of Korean immigrant families in the United States are engaged in small business. This paper attempts to explain why such a large proportion of Korean immigrants turn to small business. The data are based on personal interviews with 159 randomly selected Korean businessmen in Atlanta. The data analysis shows that neither Korean immigrants' sojourning orientation nor their perception of host discimination is an important factor in their decision to start a business. It instead indicates that Korean immigrants' perception of disadvantages in nonbusiness occupations, their sense of status inconsistency, and their anticipation of economic mobility through business are three major factors which lead them to small business. The findings are theoretically important since neither the concept of status inconsistency nor that of mobility has been applied to minority small business, while sojourning and host discrimination have been emphasized as explanatory variables for minority members' entry into small business.