Ethnicity, Immigration and Social Policy


Populations of visible ethnic minorities have steadily increased over the past few decades in immigrant-receptive societies. While a complex calculus of push and pull factors has motivated this increase, one of the main impetuses for this migration has been the search for employment, better wages and a higher standard of living. It is, therefore, not surprising that the educational attainments of the first generation and beyond have achieved convergence with, or exceeded, the non-ethnic minority cohort. These outcomes may suggest a greater propensity for ethnic minorities to attain labour market success and to fully integrate within the community. However, the lessons learned from recent studies suggests an uneasiness to boldly claim this as the most convincing conclusion at this juncture. This course engages with this narrative by examining the occupational success of ethnic minorities during the job search, hiring, and promotion process. Moreover, it discusses the interactive role an individual’s non-cognitive skills and social network, a firm’s working culture, and social trust in a community, plays in the integration process. Each lecture will discuss a salient topic of interest to the understanding of ethnicity and immigration, and further engage with the applicable social policy theories and practices using a myriad of global experiences.

Lectures and Readings

1. Introduction [video] [podcast] [handout]

2. Ethnic Polarization [video] [podcast] [handout]

  • Marx, A. (1996) “Race‐Making and the Nation‐State”, World Politics 48(2): 180‐208.

  • Posner, D. (2004) “The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi”, American Political Science Review 98(4): 529‐545.

  • Hasmath, R. (2019) “What Explains the Rise of Majority-Minority Tensions and Conflict in Xinjiang?”, Central Asian Survey 38(1): 46-60. [audio paper: video and podcast] [public talk: video and podcast]

  • Yashar, D.J. (1998) “Contesting Citizenship: Indigenous Movements and Democracy in Latin America”, Comparative Politics 31(1): 23‐42.

3. Ethnic Wars [video] [podcast] [handout]

  • Cederman, L-E., Wimmer, A. and Min, B. (2010) “Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel?”, World Politics 62(1): 87‐119.

  • Sambanis, N. (2001) “Do Ethnic and Non‐Ethnic Civil Wars Have the Same Causes?”, Journal of Conflict Resolution 45(4): 259‐282.

  • Varshney, A. (2003) “Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Rationality”, Perspectives on Politics 1(1): 85‐99.

  • Kaufmann, C. (1996) “Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars”, International Security 20(4): 136‐175.

4. Multiculturalism [video] [podcast] [handout]

5. European Models [video] [podcast] [handout]

6. Asian and Oceanic Models [video] [podcast] [handout]

7. Immigration [video] [podcast] [handout]

8. Ethnic Settlement and Human Capital [video] [podcast] [handout]

  • Hasmath, R. (2012) The Ethnic Penalty: Immigration, Education and the Labour Market. Burlington, VT and Surrey, UK: Ashgate (Routledge), Chapter Three.

  • Light, I. Sabagh, G., Bozorgmehr, M. and C. Der-Martirosian (1994) “Beyond the Ethnic Enclave Economy”, Social Problems 41(1): 65-80.

  • Spilerman, S. and T. Lunde (1991) “Features of Educational Attainment and Job Promotion Prospects”, American Journal of Sociology 97(3): 689-720.

  • Hasmath, R. (2011) “The Education of Ethnic Minorities in Beijing”, Ethnic and Racial Studies 34(11): 1835-1854.

9. Socio-Economic Performances [video] [podcast] [handout]

10. Inter-Ethnic Cooperation [video] [podcast] [handout]

  • Fearon, J.D. and Laitin, D. (1996) “Explaining Interethnic Cooperation”, American Political Science Review 90(4): 715‐35.

  • Paluck, E.L. and Green, D.P. (2009) “Prejudice Reduction: What Works? A Review and Assessment of Research and Practice”, Annual Review of Psychology 60: 339‐367.

  • Hale, H. (2004) “Divided We Stand: Institutional Sources of Ethno‐Federal State Survival and Collapse”, World Politics 56(2): 165‐193.

  • Gibson, J.L. (2004) “Does Truth Lead to Reconciliation? Testing the Causal Assumptions of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Process”, American Journal of Political Science 48(2): 201‐217. [L]

  • Hasmath, R., Ho. B. and Kay-Reid, S. (2020) “State Apologies and the Rehumanization of Social Groups”, Paper Presented at Workshop on Ethics, Rights, Culture and the Humanization of Refugees (Edmonton, Canada), February 7-8. [public talk: video and podcast]

11. Future Prospects [video] [podcast] [handout]