Despite nearly fifty years since structural changes predicated the “model minority thesis” and “culture of poverty” arguments, these beliefs continue to be employed as cultural abstractions. Henry H. Kim elucidates how these concepts emerged in the 1960s and re- emerged in the twenty-first century and critiques these beliefs via historical sociology. A modified version of this article was presented at the Association of Christians Teaching Sociology Conference (2012). Mr. Kim is Associate Professor of Sociology at Wheaton College, and continues to follow his life-long passion of connecting counterintuitive patterns with respect to structure, agency, and contingency.

A few years ago I joined the Sociology Department of a Christian liberal arts college. Before I had taught my first class, two individuals asked me separate questions that still make me chuckle today. One person asked: “Are you the new math professor?” On another occasion I was asked: “Are you the new computer science professor?” A few years later some faculty members were discussing various educational outcomes based on racial groups and one person looked at me and joked: “That’s the problem with you Asians – you’re always setting the bar so high.” As a sociologist I knew why I had these experiences throughout my life. I was also encouraged to investigate this matter by a very good colleague as part of my tenure process. This article, then, is a sociological reflection regarding the so-called “model minority thesis” with respect to “Asian Americans.”

Thomas Luckmann once asked: “What are the conditions under which ‘transcendent,’ superordinated and ‘integrating’ structures of meaning are socially objectivated?”1 In other words, when do ideas, circulated in society, become taken as fact and socially powerful? One such structure of meaning that persists today is the “model minority thesis” (MMT) and the flipside of the MMT is “the culture of poverty” (CP). Whereas the MMT supports the notion that particular culturally defined groups (in the case of the United States, Asian immigrants) have a cultural predisposition for social, economic, and education success, the CP thesis has been used to argue that persistent poverty in particular communities or countries is best explained through cultural forms that mitigate against such economic and social progress. Thus, if one culture possesses “superior” attributes it stands to reason that another culture can be deemed “inferior.” As effective ideologies2 the MMT and CP have become reified; they have been externalized, objectivated, and internalized (Peter Berger’s dialectic)3 as cultural abstractions apart from history and structural mechanisms. However, as Karl Marx noted, people make choices in life but not under conditions of their choosing.

The perpetuation of the MMT and CP entails both structure (“conditions of choosing”) and culture (“choices”). According to William Julius Wilson:

Social structure refers to the way social positions, social roles, and networks of social relationships are arranged in our institutions, such as the economy, polity, education, and organization of the family. … Culture, on the other hand refers to the sharing of outlooks and modes of behavior among individuals who face similar place-based circumstances or have the same social networks.4

Although the MMT and CP appear to be in diametric opposition, I will argue that they are both employed as transcendent meanings to explain how culture predicates success or failure. These ideologies also reinforce the beliefs of abstracted individualism and meritocracy. However, they do not exist sui generis but stem from particular material conditions. In this essay, via historical sociology in general and path dependence in particular, I show how the model minority and culture of poverty beliefs emerged as a form of “transcendence.” I utilize these methods because Luckmann proposes that the internalization of a transcendent meaning entails both a “historical and objective” and “subjective reality.”

Manifestations of the Model Minority Thesis Today

Two recent books have helped the MMT (and CP) to resurface as transcendent beliefs. In 2005, Soo and Jane Kim (Korean sisters) published Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers – and How You Can Too. Kim and Kim argue that Asian parents (and their children) may be doing something right and non-Asian parents may be doing something wrong.5 Therefore, families that desire high-achieving progeny should adopt Asian values. Based on education and household income, it would appear that Asian Americans are doing something right. In the July 2012 Pew Research Report on Asian Americans, the first sentence on page one states: “Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.”6 On the same page, the document posits that Asian Americans are more likely than other Americans to value “marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success.” According to Rebecca Kim in God’s New Whiz Kids?: Korean American Evangelicals on Campus: “Asian Americans account for only 4 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for more than 6 percent of college enrollment nationwide, and at the Ivy League universities Asian American enrollment often exceeds 20 percent.”7 According to the Kim sisters, Asian-American educational “percentages are astounding: 23% at the University of Pennsylvania, 25% at Columbia and Cornell, 15% at Brown, and 18% at Harvard. Asian-Americans make up 24% of the student population at Stanford, 15% at Johns Hopkins, 17% at Northwestern, and a whopping 42% at the University of California at Berkeley.”8 Kim and Kim, as do others, claim that educational achievements have translated into income and status payoffs.

According to The New York Times, the Kim sisters evince Asian values that are in stark contrast with American culture; these values led to success because their parents made appropriate sacrifices.9 Good Morning America (via television and print) depicted the Kim parents as having come from “humble beginnings;” the father worked as a janitor and the mother worked as a seamstress.10 Nonetheless, with the proper cultural values, they experienced success as one daughter became a medical doctor and the other became a lawyer. Kim and Kim claim that in order for their “Asian secrets” to be unlocked and utilized, American parents must overcome their key problem: “very few adults today actually love to learn.”

The second book that re-ignited the MMT was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law at Yale. The Pew Report claims that this book “triggered a spirited debate about cultural differences in parenting norms.”11 In fact, one of the headings of a chart that compares parenting self-perceptions is “Who’s a ‘Tiger Mom’?” Chua also begins her book in a similar fashion as Kim and Kim by trying to pique the readers’ interest regarding potential success:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.12

Unlike the Kim sisters, Chua received even more scrutiny and media attention. In fact, Chua made “The Time 100”13 and The Atlantic’s “Brave New Thinkers”14 of 2011 lists. Time’s list was supposedly constructed with respect to “the most influential people in the world.” Why was Chua selected? Time stated:

When an entire nation reacts so strongly to something, you know you have hit a nerve. And Amy did. She hit us where it hurts, questioning our parenting, our kids’ educational achievement and our nation’s ability to compete globally in today’s world.

The Wall Street Journal titled its article on Chua’s book: “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.”15 So how did the MMT become a transcendent meaning in the U.S.? I will briefly explain the concept of path dependence before I address this question.

Path Dependence and Historical Sociology

One sociological method, historical sociology, maps how historical processes have led to particular outcomes.16 According to Philip Abrams, “historical sociology is thus not some special kind of sociology; rather, it is the essence of the discipline.”17 Historical sociology made a breakthrough during the 1970s and became “institutionalized within sociology” by the 1990s.18 The American Sociological Association created a new sub-field of “Comparative and Historical Sociology” in 1983 to institutionalize historical research within sociology.19 A particular aspect of historical sociology that I employ in this paper is path dependence. Joel Rast, Jack Gladstone, and James Mahoney provide three excellent yet overlapping definitions of “path dependence.”20 Basically, there are six aspects of path dependence that scholars disagree about (what is needed and how much is needed): 1) The past affects the future; 2) Initial conditions are causally important; 3) Contingent events are causally important; 4) Historical lock-in occurs; 5) A self-producing sequence occurs; and 6) A reactive sequence occurs.21 This paper will focus primarily on aspects 1-5 of path dependence to explicate the MMT.

Perhaps the article that literature on path dependence points to is the one by Paul A. David.22 In this article, David asks: “Why does the topmost row of letters on your personal computer keyboard spell out QWERTYUIOP, rather than something else?” He answers this question by constructing a path dependent model. Basically, the QWERTY keyboard was chosen because it was not the most efficient way to type. Other keyboard arrangements were too efficient and typewriters in the 1860s became jammed. By the time technology had improved to sustain more efficient keyboards, historical lock-in occurred which precluded change (creative destruction23).

Obviously, when attempting to infer causality from historical data in general and with path dependence in particular one must be careful of circular and ex post facto arguments. Furthermore, assessing the “strength” or existence of path dependence regarding particular historic events may be open to debate. Rast claims that a proper use of path dependence must fulfill two objectives.24 First, outcomes must be connected to a past event that both appears random and has multiple trajectories. Second, how the lock-in occurred must be explained. The challenges notwithstanding, Mahoney claims that utilizing historical sociology in general and path dependence in particular may be fruitful for future studies (particularly in non-linear modeling).25

Historical “facts” are important in sociology because those who “make” history and record history evince power. With respect to the first, C. W. Mills used the phrase “history-makers.”26 Once history-makers exert their influence, the “historical” events that are recorded also evince asymmetrical relationships. Who gets to record what and for what reasons? Accordingly, history-makers can use forms of “historical” knowledge to preserve and legitimate their dominance.

Jurgen Habermas posited that actual knowledge had been replaced with the motivations of those with power: “Motives… are now the forces that hold sway over consciousness by legitimating power.”27 History-makers are able to use their motives to create their own stories and ideologies. Jay MacLeod states that ideologies have become more effective in sustaining asymmetrical relationships than coercion.28 Accordingly, MacLeod claims that the “American Dream” is really a hallucination because it serves as an effective ideology that masks unequal starting points and outcomes. The American Dream parallels the MMT in that they both serve to “motivate” and legitimate a social location that is not necessarily false, but is perhaps wishful thinking.29 Whether or not individual and group outcomes with respect to Asian Americans is a worthy goal to achieve is one (philosophical) question. The odds that this goal can be achieved meritocratically are an illusion in the guise of the MMT (CP). Herein lies the value of Nietzsche’s concept of critical history especially for those who are not history-makers.30 The MMT is an abstracted cultural argument that is used to explain “success” in juxtaposition to other minority “failures.” According to J. M. Blaut, an argument based on cultural preconditions has been used as one of four Eurocentric historiographic rationales (religion, race, environment, or culture) to explicate European dominance.31 This same logic is evinced by Kim and Kim, Chua, and others who purport that there is an inherent “Asian” culture that predicates “success.”

From Yellow Peril to the MMT

From the 1800s to the mid-twentieth century, Asians (particularly the Chinese and Japanese) were often depicted as unassimilable and as a threat to mainstream America. Due to political reasons, there was a reversal of acceptance and animosity toward Chinese and Japanese Americans. Though both the Chinese and Japanese faced discrimination regardless of their modes of incorporation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, initially the Japanese were more accepted than the Chinese were who were known to be “celestial.” There was a reversal after Pearl Harbor. For example, on December 22, 1941, Time published an article “How to Tell Your Friends from The Japs” and Life published an article “How to Tell Japs from the Chinese.” Anti-Japanese fervor reached its zenith with Executive Order 9066 (signed on February 19, 1942) mandating that all U.S. residents of Japanese descent be confined to internment camps. In spite of this flip-flop, Asian Americans went from being perceived as perpetual foreigners and a yellow peril to being associated with the MMT and honorary whites32 (though they are still perpetual foreigners and paradoxically both a model minority and a threat) during the 1960s.

Path Dependence in 1965: Immigration Reform and The Civil Rights 1Movement

In 1965 The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (Moynihan Report) was released by the U.S. Department of Labor.33 As the Civil Rights Movement had won various legal battles, D. P. Moynihan claimed that America was “approaching a new crisis in race relations” because black Americans expected that equal opportunities would be correlated with equal outcomes. However, educational and income gaps between different races were widening (the opposite of the Kuznets curve hypothesis).34 The report explicitly stated that past and present forms of racism, changes in occupational patterns (notably unemployment for black men), and housing discrimination contributed to “the deterioration of” families. Family breakdowns in turn would perpetuate a “tangle of pathology,” a form of analysis which could come to be known as a “culture of poverty.”35 Though Moynihan stated that “the fundamental problem… is that of family structure,” he clearly and repeatedly claimed that family patterns were predicated by structural mechanisms. Unfortunately, latter unsophisticated analyses abstracted culture whereby the CP would be juxtaposed with the MMT.

Though Moynihan had a Ph.D. in sociology and is best known for his political career, William Petersen was a sociology professor in 1966 when he wrote his now-famous article for The New York Times Magazine.36 He unbelievably stated that Japanese Americans may have been the minority group that was “subjected to the most discrimination and the worst injustices” in U.S. history. However, Japanese culture emphasized family bonds which fostered successive generational mobility (in educational and employment outcomes). Petersen therefore argued that although blacks and Japanese faced similar historic discrimination, one group became known as a “problem minority” and the other went from “the Yellow Peril” to a “model minority.” (Without entering the game of arguing who was more oppressed, I will merely say that Petersen’s claims are so obviously outlandish I need not provide further comments.) The U.S. News & World Report affirmed Petersen’s reasoning in the same year for Chinese Americans: “At a time when Americans are awash in worry over the plight of racial minorities – One such minority… the Chinese-American, is winning wealth and respect by dint of its own hard work.”37 In contrast, the magazine claimed that other minorities in general and blacks in particular complain, lack discipline, engage in deviant behavior, and expect government assistance. Petersen would extend the points from his article in a book, Japanese Americans: Oppression and Success to reify further the MMT. The MMT continues to be associated with William Petersen and his book would become “his accidental masterpiece.”38

Ironically, according to William Wei (who wrote the first academic work on the Asian-American Movement), it was the racial injustices that the Civil Rights Movement exposed that fostered the solidarity of various Asian sub-groups to self-identify as “Asian Americans.”39 The actions of civil rights activists led not only to legal equality but they also fostered the conditions whereby “the Asian American movement was born.” As sub-groups would self-identify and be identified as “Asians,” according to some scholars the MMT was created by “white elites” as a mechanism of social control as a reaction against the Civil Rights Movement.40 A similar (diachronic) argument concerning the racialization of policies is traced by Robert C. Lieberman.41 When white Americans were in need of a welfare state following the Depression, the “problem” was attributed to economic downturns. When black Americans were granted access to welfare assistance in the 1960s after decades of racist exclusion, the “problem” was no longer structural but one of culture (CP). During the 1960s, the MMT and CP implied that if Asians are succeeding why not the other minorities? Ronald Takaki claimed that the MMT persists as a transcendent meaning because, “Asian Americans are again being used to discipline blacks.”42 Some scholars claim that in order to create a racial hierarchy in America (similar to the squelching of Bacon’s Rebellion) and abstract culture, “Asian Americans were also made into puppets.”43 Toward the end of the nineteenth century, white planters in the West and South lauded the Chinese laborers’ productivity and work ethic while denigrating the black ex-slaves; planters intentionally used Chinese workers “against black workers.”44 Race abstracted from structural conditions is a powerful ideology.

At the start of the twentieth century, W. E. B. Du Bois stated both blacks and those responsible for the poor conditions had to work together to improve the life chances for black Americans.45 He was explicit in that betterment for blacks entailed both agency (culture) and structure. About a decade after Du Bois leveled this criticism, Robert Park claimed that physical appearances rather than cognitive deficiencies precluded blacks and Japanese to “assimilate” into America: “The Japanese, like the Negro, is condemned to remain among us an abstraction, a symbol, and a symbol not merely of his own race, but of the Orient and of that vague, ill-defined menace we sometimes refer to as the ‘yellow peril.’”46 Park argued that for non-whites, particularly blacks and Japanese, group differences would never be replaced with individual differences; full assimilation was impossible for non-whites.

In 1966, James Coleman wrote a government report concerning race and education. In this report, it was found that of the six major racial groups (“Negroes, American Indians, Oriental Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, and whites”), whites had the highest educational scores and all other groups lagged behind significantly except for “Orientals.” Coleman claimed that the differences could be explained by “culture-bound” rather than by primordial (biological) explanations.47 The internalized “culture” that led to educational outcomes was the students’ perception of how likely they would be able to employ agency within structural opportunities and constraints. Coleman found that except for “Orientals,” all minorities did not believe that increasing human capital would lead to commensurate payoffs. That is, choices and conditions of choosing were important regarding group outcomes. Unfortunately, proponents of the MMT focused only on choices. At this point, I would like to question if Asians in fact were a model minority of success regarding their “choices.”

In 1974, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (DHEW) conducted a study on Asian Americans (Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Hawaiians). The report was created in response to the massive inflows of Asian immigrants (Asians represented 5% of all immigrants in 1965 and 24% in 1973). One of the three major conclusions was:

All of the ethnic minority groups have serious deficiencies in the areas of health, education, and welfare; deficiencies which flow from impoverishment, cultural differences, or, most often, a combination of both; and they thus have substantial need for the services DHEW is committed to provide for all Americans.48

Further, in contrast to Petersen’s assertion that Japanese culture emphasizes strong family bonds, Japanese Americans had similar rates of husband-wife (86%) and female-headed families (10%) as the U.S. population (86% and 11%, respectively). In fact, the report specifically debunks the myth that Asian Americans have stronger family values and bonds. Further, with respect to Japanese men in particular, the report shows clearly that the foreign-born have higher educational (human capital) credentials than their native-born counterparts (similar findings were extended to all Asian inflows). Ironically, the human capital investments were not commensurate with payoffs. Household incomes were inflated because Asian Americans had more income earners per household and residencies were skewed in California and Hawaii where incomes and expenses tended to be higher than national averages.

In 1980, the United States Commission on Civil Rights found that Asian Americans were well represented in high-paying occupations (and educational attainment) and also found that “a disproportionately large number are also in low-paying occupations.”49 After an investigation with respect to income, education, and level of authority within and across employment sectors by race and gender, the conclusion was that the MMT was an inaccurate stereotype.50 That is, the MMT focused on the bifurcated tier that appeared to be doing very well. But how did some Asians become so successful? Were they “more Asian” than other Asians? To answer these questions, I will argue 1965 was significant regarding the Civil Rights Movement and immigration reform. 1965 became a hinge year that facilitated the MMT-CP juxtaposition.

The 1965 Immigration Act

Based on two U.S. Censuses, the proportions of live births for whites and non-whites were 84.6% and 15.4% and 82.8% and 17.2% for 1960 and 1970, respectively.51 Asian Americans are currently 5.6% (single race + combination) of the U.S. population. According to a U.S. Census Report for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, their 46% growth rate from the 2000 to 2010 was the greatest among all races.52 A recent Census brief claims that 50.4% of those who were less than a year old, as of May 17, 2012, were non-white (compared to 49.6% white).53 This is the first time in U.S. history that the proportion of non-white newborns was greater than the proportion of whites. What happened post-1965 that would cause this demographic change?

Douglas Massey claimed that, “international migration originates in the social, economic, cultural, and political transformations that accompany the penetration of capitalist markets into nonmarket and premarket societies (as hypothesized under world systems theory).”54 After delineating six traditional explanations of international migration into the U.S. post-1960s, he claimed that there was a blind spot: “Yet among the theories reviewed here, surprisingly little attention has been devoted to nation-states or their governments as active agents whose behavior shapes, if not controls, international population movements.”

The immigration policies that were negotiated and eventually created a lock-in are well documented by a report from the Center for Immigration Studies.55 The report clearly shows how various politicians who supported the 1965 Act did not perceive nor intend for the bill to change the racial composition of America. That is, they anticipated readjusted inflows of Europeans and not new inflows of Africans, Asians, and Latinos. Due to the National Origins quota allotments (1921, 1924, and 1952), about 70% of the quotas were filled by the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany while countries like Italy had a waiting list of about a quarter of a million people.56 This was after the 1952 Act tried to mitigate the “discrimination” against Southern and Eastern European emigrants from the 1924 policy. Prior to the 1952 reform, 85% of the inflows were coming from Northern and Western Europe.57

The 1965 Act would change quotas from specific countries to hemispheric regions based on the following preferences:1) Unmarried adult sons or daughters of U.S. citizens; 2) Spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent U.S. residents; 3) Members of the professions or scientists and artists of exceptional ability who will contribute to America’s (economic or cultural) welfare; 4) Married children of U.S. citizens; 5) Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens over age 21; 6) Non-seasonal skilled and unskilled workers in shortage; 7) Conditional entrees for those fleeing persecution from a non-Communist country; and 8) Non-preference applications based on chronology of application.58 Further, the revised policy defined “professions” to “include but not be limited to architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academics, or seminaries.”59

Various politicians claimed that Asian nations were unable to sustain regular and large inflows because they were not perceived to have the wherewithal to compete with other European inflows. For example, Robert Kennedy (Attorney General) estimated that 5,000 Asians would immigrate from the Asia-Pacific Triangle in one wave, “after which immigration from that source would virtually disappear.”60 Because the U.S. was under global scrutiny regarding the Civil Rights Movement, the 1965 Act was meant to be a symbolic gesture. When President Johnson signed the bill, he stated: “This bill we sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not restructure the shape of our daily lives.”61 When Secretary of State Dean Rusk was specifically asked how the new policy would impact Asian-Indian inflows, he stated that about 8,000 Indians would immigrate over a five-year span and then subside without changing their composition.62 This would not prove to be the case.

Over the next forty years, the composition of the U.S. immigrant population would shift to Asia and Latin America. The top five countries that represented naturalization in 2011 were Mexico (94,783), India (45,985), the Philippines (42,520), the People’s Republic of China (32,864), and Colombia (22,693).63 Further, among the foreign-born who gained U.S. citizenship, Asia represented 36%, 40.6%, and 37.2% for the years 2011, 2010, and 2009 respectively. For the same years, Europeans represented 11.8%, 12.6%, and 12.1%. In fact, since the 1965 Act, there has generally been an inverse relationship regarding European and non-European inflows. I argue that the 1965 Reform coincided with both the Civil Rights Movement and a change in America’s means of production which led to the burgeoning of Asian-American immigrants. These contexts allowed the MMT-CP juxtaposition to emerge as a transcendent meaning. This juxtaposition is really about a combination of structure, culture, agency, and contingency.

Changes in the Means of Production: From the Manufacturing to the Service Sector

What was the nexus between the 1965 Act and the post-1965 Asian inflows? Due to a change in the means of production in the U.S., immigrants in general and Asians in particular employed the 1965 Act. First-wave immigrants entered via high-skilled labor preferences and upon becoming U.S. citizens or residents, they employed the family reunification provisions (that were intended for European Americans). In 1951, C. W. Mills noted that America’s means of production was changing from farm and wage labor to “white collar” employment. The rise of white collar employment would necessitate a need for higher levels of education as labor markets, rather than land ownership, would dictate one’s life chances.64 Within a few years of Mills’ publication, the number of white-collar workers outnumbered blue-collar workers for the first time in U.S. history.65

Labor economist Sheldon Friedman investigated the effects of the 1965 Act while he was at MIT.66 By looking at the changes in labor inflows from fiscal years 1965-1970,67 he found that the effects of immigration reform were immediate with respect to “professional, technical, and kindred workers (PTKs)” from “less developed countries (LDCs)” and particularly from Asia. By 1970, over 70% of the PTK immigrants would come from LDCs and Asians would increase their proportions of these LDCs from 6.8% to 51.3%, from 1965 to 1970 respectively. The Asian proportion of engineers, scientists, and physicians of the PTKs would also increase from 25.6% in 1965 to 35.7% in 1970. Not only would the medical personnel be the largest component of PTKs by 1970, but Asian inflows would bear “virtually all of the post-Immigration Act increase in the volume of physician immigrants.”68 Friedman noted that a selection bias among the immigrants from Asia worked in at least two ways. First, those who left had higher educational levels than their counterparts in their country of departure as well as the U.S. population. Second, about 25% of the PTKs were comprised of students who studied in the U.S. and did not return (also called SNRs). During the 1965-1970 span SNRs “accounted for over 80 per cent of engineer immigrants from Taiwan, India, and Korea.”69 Friedman’s conclusion was that the immediate impact of the

1965 Act was to draw skilled labor from non-European countries.
By the 1970s, the U.S. would be the only country in the world to have the service sector comprised of more than half of all workers or its gross national product.70 Manuel Castells contends that it was during the 1970s that information technologies developed and created a globalized “network society.”71 He argues explicitly that this particular system did not emerge from a particular culture but from social networks within particular structural (political, economic, militaristic, and technological) conditions in time and space. By 1976, there was no longer a shortage of physicians and medical professionals – there was a surplus. The 1965 Act and the globalized networks had various unintended consequences. In response, Congress passed several laws in 1976-7. The intent was to mitigate the preferential treatments for the medical professions under the 1965 Act (provisions #3 and #6) since this group was no longer deemed to be in high demand.72 Therefore, medical professionals had to have a contract from their prospective employer in order to emigrate to the U.S. Ironically, whereas Congress deemed contract labor to be an illegal means of entry at the turn of the twentieth century it was now (1965) the most expedient means of entry for medical professionals. And just like the 1965 Act, the contract labor requirements would continue to have unintended self-selective consequences for immigrants in general, and for Asian inflows in particular; this is why there is an overrepresentation of Asian doctors and Filipino nurses.

In 1980, the Commission on Civil Rights reported:

Many of the Asian Americans in professional and technical positions are recent immigrants. The large numbers in this occupational category at least partially reflect American immigration policy, not solely the upward mobility of second- and third-generation citizens.73

As the U.S. changed from a manufacturing to a service-centered economy, the 1965 Act had created a lock-in as the U.S. needed to attract and retain global brainpower. Further policies after 1965 did not limit immigrant professionals from entering but only created concentrated inflows through specific mechanisms, such as employee-sponsored recruitment or SNRs. Castells claimed:

In the 1990s, over 50 percent of PhD degrees in science and engineering were conferred upon foreign nationals. About 47 percent of these foreign PhD holders ended up staying in the U.S., but this is a matter of the inability of their countries of origin to attract them… 88 percent of PhD students from China and 79 percent from India stayed in the U.S., but only 13 percent from Japan and 11 percent from South Korea.74

According to the Institute of International Education, there were 723,277 international students in the U.S. in the 2010-11 academic year.75 There is not one European country among the top 10 sending countries. In fact, the top three, China, India, and South Korea, represent 21.8%, 14.4%, and 10.1% of all international students respectively (46.3% of all students). Further, among the top twenty-five sending nations, the European nations are Germany, UK, France, and Russia, which account for a total of 4.2% of all international students.76 This means that over 90% of the international students in the U.S. were from non-European nations. Eleven out of the twenty-five nations were Asian and comprised the majority of the top ten and twenty nations. Regarding the foreign-born between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four by race (Hispanic, Black, Asian, and White), Sandy Baum and Stella M. Flores report that 9%, 30%, 63%, and 54%, respectively, had a college degree or higher.77 For the second generation, the respective proportions were, 19%, 42%, 57%, and 48%. Thus, the Asian proportions are the highest for both the immigrants and their progeny.78

One region that has been impacted by foreign-born Asian inflows (workers and students) is Silicon Valley, particularly with respect to Indian and Chinese immigrants (“IC” now means “Indian and Chinese” and not “chips”). Due to the transnational nature of globalized networks in Silicon Valley, AnnaLee Saxenian claimed that the term “brain drain” has been replaced with “brain circulation.”79 She also found that about half of the foreign-born students who received a PhD in science and engineering during the 1990-1 academic year remained in the U.S. after receiving their degree. By 1990, one-third of Silicon Valley’s scientists and engineers were foreign-born and of this group, two-thirds were from Asia. Finally, she notes that among the Chinese and Indian workers in 1990, 84% and 98% were immigrants, respectively. When did this brain migration and circulation begin? Saxenian claims that the 1965 Act “created significant new opportunities for foreign-born engineers and other highly educated professionals whose skills were in short supply, as well as for their families and relatives.”80

As noted, various policies in the mid-1970s were used to curtail medical professional inflows. Conversely, there was a shortage in the IT fields and the H1-B Visa was created in 1990. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, from 2000-2009 the majority (over 60%) of H1-B Visa recipients were from Asia.81 The report estimates that during these years, 46.9%, 8.9%, 3.7%, and 1.7% of the visas were issued to India, China, the Philippines, and Taiwan respectively. This program was created to induce specialized labor in addition to the 1965 Act allotments. Despite the increased inflows via immigration policies, there was still a shortage of computer-science engineers and scientists. Bill Gates not only asked Congress to allow for more H1-B inflows to meet his company’s needs, he also opened a Microsoft branch in Canada to meet the labor shortage. According to an NPR article that reported Gates’ request before Congress, “the average salary including benefits, is worth more than $100,000 annually, regardless of where the employee is based.”82 Due to the impact of policies such as the 1965 Act, the 1976-7 policies, and H1-B Visas, if Asians were the “model minority” of the twentieth century, Forbes claimed that Asian Indians are now referred to as “The New Model Minority.”83 When questioning why Indians are outperforming everyone else, Forbes reports: “Ultimately, immigration policy decides which kinds of qualities our immigrants possess.”

Interestingly, when Massey provided an overview of migration patterns about a decade ago, he claimed that “labor recruitment becomes superfluous” because networks (informal and family reunification policies) obviate the need for it.84 However, he also claimed that research on nation-state policies was also lacking. Accordingly, the 2012 Pew Report notes that H1-B visas continue to have a significant role on particular sub-groups: “About half of all Korean and Indian immigrants who received green cards in 2011 got them on the basis of employer sponsorship, compared with about a third of Japanese, a fifth of Chinese, one-in-eight Filipinos and just 1% of Vietnamese.”85 Overall, 27% of all Asians in America (using the six largest Asian sub-groups) who had received green cards did so via employer sponsorships (compared to 8% of all other immigrants). Of the nearly 130,000 H1-B visas that were issued in 2011, Indians and Chinese accounted for 56% and 8% respectively.86 Thus, over half of all H1-B visas were issued to Indians, and about two of three were issued to Indians and Chinese (there may be more since Indian and Chinese [ethnic] persons may also hail from the U.K., France, or Germany [nation-states] – the only European nations in the top 10). Perhaps these particular visas help to explain why the report claims that 5% of the U.S. population and 14% of Asians are employed in the science and engineering fields. For Indians and Chinese, the proportions are 28% and 18%, respectively.

Top of the Class and Tiger Mother

I return to the two books that have helped rejuvenate the MMT discussions in America. Kim and Kim depict vividly how their family struggled as their parents had “heads full of dreams… but with little money in their pockets.” As the authors pontificate on various Asian values, they claim: “After moving into a small one-bedroom on the University of Southern California’s campus (where our father was getting his master’s degree in Computer Science), our mother went to work as a seamstress. … Our father worked as a janitor and as a gas-station attendant to make ends meet.”87 Why downplay the father’s advanced degree by placing it in parentheses? Their father was a highly educated individual who was able to make choices within specific conditions. Kim and Kim and others who utilize the MMT reify an explanation of success based on an abstracted culture. They ignore immigration policies and conceptualize Korean Americans as “Asian” rather than as “self-selected immigrants.” For example, the rates of adults (25-64) with a college degree in Korea and foreign-born Koreans in the U.S. are 24.3% and 58.8% respectively.88 The U.S. national average in 2009, for those who were twenty-five or older was 28%.89 This means that that the average American adult (twenty-five or older and including the native- and foreign-born) is more likely to have a college degree than the average adult in Korea. However, if you are a foreign-born Korean adult in the U.S., you are more than twice as likely to have a college degree. According to the Pew Report, about 70% of the “recent immigrants” (ages 25-64 who immigrated between years 2007-10) from Korea and Japan had a college degree (or higher).90 Indians had higher proportions at 81% and the Chinese were slightly lower at 66.5%. In fact, Asians (65%) had higher rates when compared to all immigrants (42.7%) and all non-Asian immigrants (30.8%). Further, the immigration rates are also skewed; 59% of all Asian Americans are foreign-born (compared to 13% of the U.S. population) and the proportion for Asian-American adults is 74%. Historical sociology and path dependence better explain “high achievers” than do “Asian values.”

Chua is a bit more forthright in depicting her parents’ contexts of departure (from the Philippines) than were the Kim sisters. Her mother graduated from the University of Santo Tomas at the top of her class with a degree in chemical engineering. Her father also received a college degree in the Philippines from the Mapua Institute of Technology.91 In fact, just like the Kim sisters’ father, Chua’s father (Leon) also came to the U.S. to go to graduate school for a master’s degree (MIT). He eventually earned a PhD from the University of Illinois and became an expert in chaos theory. Further, he was a pioneer in this field as his book, Introduction to Nonlinear Network Theory, was published in 1969.92 Chua writes of her father:

In 1971, my father accepted an offer from the University of California at Berkeley…. As he became internationally known for his work on chaos theory, we began traveling around the world. I spent my junior year in high school studying in London, Munich, and Lausanne.93

So, did her parents pass on “Chinese values” to the children? Is she with her Jewish husband able to pass on “Chinese culture” to her daughters? Perhaps, but culture cannot be divorced from structure.

I concur with William Wilson that “structure trumps culture” regarding group outcomes.94 Interestingly, in a book written prior to Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua claims that her father came from an elite class that oversaw “a plastics conglomerate” in the Philippines.95 Chua recounts of her memories in visiting her relatives and being lavished with ten small diamonds on her tenth birthday. Her aunt (the twin sister of her father) was “like many wealthy Filipino Chinese” who had bank accounts in Honolulu, San Francisco, and Chicago.96 That Asian immigrants enact choices (agency) within particular conditions (structure) is nothing new in America. However, explaining group (intra and inter) outcomes via “good” or “poor” cultural values abstracted from structural conditions are inaccurate.

Structure, Culture, Agency, and Contingency: A Sociological Interpretation

Thus far, I have argued that the MMT/CP dichotomy has become a transcendent meaning that conflates morality with opportunity and upholds the ideologies of abstracted individualism and meritocracy. Attributing “success” and “Asian values” to self-selected Asian immigrants abstracts culture and mitigates historical and structural factors. I have tried to show through historical sociology and path dependence how the MMT and CP emerged. Further, the MMT creates a specious monolithic category of “Asians” when Asian-American immigrants have various modes of incorporation due to their different contexts. Although averages for Asian Americans may appear to substantiate the MMT, disaggregated data show bifurcations and skews within this “single race.”97

Because the MMT fosters the belief that Asians are self-reliant, proper health infrastructures may be lacking. For example, Asian-American (particularly SE Asian) men are over-represented with respect to gambling addictions but adequate research and assistance are lagging. Further, research on Asian-American welfare in general and suicide in particular may be rendered unnecessary.98 According to the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for Asian Americans in 2009.99 In addition, Asian-American women had the highest proportions of suicide by race for women who were 65+ in age.

In 2012, the Economic Policy Institute released a brief with the title, “Asian Americans Continued to Suffer the Most From Long-Term Unemployment in 2011.”100 The report found that among all racial groups, Asian Americans had the highest rates of long-term unemployment (greater than six months), at 48.7% and 50.1%, in 2010 and 2011 respectively. This was also true when Asian Americans were compared to unemployed whites with comparable levels of education. A recent Census report shows that one of two Asians in this country and one of five ages 25+ has a college degree and graduate or professional degree, respectively. Counterintuitively, their educational rates and their poverty rates (12.5%) are higher than Whites’ 9.5%.101 The 2012 Pew Report claims that Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese Americans have higher rates of poverty than the U.S. general population (Indian, Japanese, and Filipino Americans do not).102 Finally, while Asian Americans face the highest rates of long-term unemployment in the labor market, they are also asked to achieve the highest SAT scores (an indirect precondition to enter the labor market eventually). A recent study by Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandra Walton Radford found that compared to Whites, Black and Hispanic applicants scored 310 and 130 points lower, respectively, and Asians scored 130 points higher to enter “selective private colleges and universities.”103 This skew continues despite the findings of Rod Paige, the former U.S. Secretary of Education (2003):

We know that many subscribe to the myth of the model minority [for Asian Americans] when it comes to education … and that there’s no need to worry about the Asian community because that’s taken care of on its own. We know that is a myth.104

My Concluding Thoughts as a Christian

There is a sign on my office door that states: “Sociology without Theology is powerless and Theology without Sociology is Blind.”105 Sociology informs me how particular problems came into being and theology informs me of the (ultimate) answers. Accordingly, the Scriptures and society must both be exegeted properly; I focused on societal exegesis in this article. As a Korean (Asian) American, I continue to experience various hurts that stem from my ethnicity (race). For example, one of my uncles is part of the Asian-American suicide statistics because he did not feel that he lived up to the MMT. However, God has allowed my personal pains (liabilities) to become Kingdom assets (II Cor. 1:3-4). In part, this was done via my professional calling as a sociologist whereby the sociological imagination has helped me to connect personal problems with societal ills. Thus, I have tried to show in this paper that the MMT-CP juxtaposition stems from abstracting and reifying culture from structure. In order for Christians, regardless of the unit of analysis, to address this (or any) ideology with efficacy, both agency and structure need to be addressed. However, before rushing into action, perhaps pause and deeper analyses should predicate action (compare to Rom. 10:2). Social issues should not be addressed at the “spiritual” and “individual” levels without making connections to systemic patterns and structural aspects.

Further, one may read this article and jump to the conclusion that liberal policies and economies may fare better than those that are “communist” or “socialist.” I concur with C. F. H. Henry’s prescient comments:

Evangelicalism must not make the mistake, so common in our day, of regarding Communism or state Socialism as the adequate rectification of the errors of totalitarianism or the inadequacies of democracies. No political or economic system has utopian promise if the essential redemptive ingredient is missing from it. A redemptive totalitarianism is far preferable to an unredemptive democracy; a redemptive Communism far more advantageous than an unredemptive Capitalism, and vice versa.106

The problems regarding the MMT and CP did not stem ultimately from culture or structure. They were objectivated as transcendent meanings in particular contexts in a fallen world. The MMT and CP evince the interactions between structure, agency, culture, and contingency in a world that awaits complete restoration. Further, the point I raise is not that individual choices do not matter, but that choices matter in contexts of choosing (Proverbs 30:8-9). The challenge that emerges is how we (as Christians) can enact better conditions without leveling spurious castigations or praises based on “culture.” If we believe that there are better (or worse) cultures regarding outcomes, taken to an extreme, then the system is left inculpable; how one defines a “problem” predicates the “solution(s).” If we believe that there are structural mechanisms that also impact outcomes, then cultural abstractions are understood to be ahistorical ideologies. If we do believe that each person is an image bearer of the Creator, then we are compelled to allow each person to know Christ and realize his or her being in Christ (Eph. 2:8-10).

However, I am not so naïve to believe that trying to enact equal life-chances will lead to equal outcomes. First, all competition will have stratified outcomes. Second, the noetic effects of sin are too great and until Christ returns and restores all of our stories in “His-story,” there will always be forms of injustice. (This should not be used to justify disengagement from the world and become morally irresponsible.) Third, in a fallen world, even if one type of inequality (of opportunity) could be removed, it would not last generationally. Even under a perfectly meritocratic system, given enough generations, the inevitable unequal outcomes will become unequal opportunities. Pending the particular problems, solutions must balance structure, agency, and contingency.

Finally, in addressing the MMT, “success” cannot be merely ascertained by one’s socio-economic status (SES). As a Christian, I believe that “success” is a faithful response to God’s calling. One may define “success” via social constructs such as education, income, occupation, or status (I am not arguing against SES per se). As stated, we are all called to actualize ourselves in Christ (Eph. 2:8-10) by doing “good works.” However, societal definitions of success and “well done, good and faithful servant” may not necessarily cohere. As Christians, we have to be careful how we define success and that we provide opportunities for success without leveling abstracted moral (cultural) critiques. Individuals and groups cannot choose how many talents they begin with as they compete in a “meritocratic” system. Particular contexts shape the conditions of choosing. It would be unfair to compare a person who begins with one talent to another person who began with five, and demand that both persons “succeed” by producing five talents. It would be illogical to castigate one who doubled his or her one talent to two as having a deficient culture, because one who began with five talents was able to produce five more. It is also unfair for groups to begin perennially with unequal talents and attribute structural preconditions as cultural defects. Unfortunately, by abstracting culture from particular contexts, this is exactly the rationale behind the transcendent meaning of the MMT-CP juxtaposition.

Cite this article
Henry Hyunsuk Kim, “How the Model Minority Thesis Became a Transcendent Meaning”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 43:2 , 109-129

Footnotes

  1. Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion: The Problem of Religion in Modern Society (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1967), 26.
  2. I use the term “ideology” in this essay with respect to critical sociology. Compare with Jurgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975). An ideology (MMT) is a counterfactual statement.
  3. Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Doubleday, 1967), 127 and 4 for comparison.
  4. William Julius Wilson, More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009), 4; emphasis in original.
  5. Soo Kim Aboud and Jane Kim, Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers – and How You Can Too (New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group: 2006), 1.
  6. “The Rise of Asian Americans,” Pew Research Center, July 12, 2012, 1.
  7. Rebecca Y. Kim, God’s New Whiz Kids? Korean American Evangelicals on Campus (New York: New York University Press: 1996), 3.
  8. Kim and Kim, Top of the Class, 1-2. With respect to household incomes, census data will substantiate the claims of Kim and Kim: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/-facts_for_features_special_editions-/cb10-ff07.html.
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/16/fashion/sundaystyles/16TOP.html?pagewanted=all.
  10. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1269967&page=1#.T7zljlJKUSg.
  11. “The Rise of Asian Americans,” 2012, 4, emphasis mine.
  12. Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (New York: The Penguin Press, 2011), 3.
  13. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2066367_2066369_2066449,00.-html.
  14. http://www.theatlantic.com/special-report/brave-thinkers-2011/.
  15. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html.
  16. Ronald Aminzade, “Historical Sociology and Time,” Sociological Methods & Research 20 (1992): 462.
  17. Ronald Aminzade, “Historical Sociology and Time,” Sociological Methods & Research 20 (1992): 462.
  18. James Mahoney, “On the Second Wave of Historical Sociology, 1970s-Present,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 47 (2006): 375.
  19. Joel Rast, “Why History (Still) Matters: Time and Temporality in Urban Political Analysis,” Urban Affairs Review 48 (2012): 4.
  20. Ibid., 8; Jack A. Goldstone, “Initial Conditions, General Laws, Path Dependence, and Explanation in Historical Sociology,” American Journal of Sociology 104 (1998): 834; James Mahoney, “Path Dependence in Historical Sociology,” Theory and Society 4 (2000): 507.
  21. James Mahoney and Daniel Schensul, “Historical Context and Path Dependence,” in The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis, eds. Robert E. Goodin and Charles Tilly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 457.
  22. Paul A. David, “Clio and the Economics of QWERTY,” The American Economics Review 75 (1985): 332-37.
  23. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: Taylor & Francis), 2003 (1943), 81ff. and for comparison, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (New York: Crown Business, 2012), 86 and 94.
  24. Rast, “Why History (Still) Matters,” 13.
  25. James Mahoney, “Comparative-Historical Methodology,” Annual Review of Sociology 30 (2004): 81 and 91-92.
  26. C. W. Mills, “The Structure of Power in American Society,” The British Journal of Sociology 9 (1958): 31.
  27. Jurgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), 282.
  28. Jay MacLeod, Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations & Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2009), 113.
  29. Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1961), 40.
  30. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1957), 17.
  31. J. M. Blaut, Eight Eurocentric Historians (New York: The Guilford Press, 2000).
  32. Mia H. Tuan, Forever Foreigners or Honorary Whites? The Asian Ethnic Enterprise Today (Princeton, NJ: Rutgers University Press), 1998.
  33. http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm.
  34. This hypothesis claimed that class inequality would increase at the beginning stages of capitalism and decrease when capitalism had become stabilized.
  35. The argument that structural dislocations led to cultural adjustments was noted by Oscar Lewis who coined the term “culture of poverty” in 1959.
  36. William Petersen, “Success Story, Japanese-American Style,” The New York Times Magazine, January 9, 1966, 19-26.
  37. “Success Story of One Minority Group in the U.S.,” U.S. News & World Report, December 26, 1966, 6-9.
  38. Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 62.
  39. William Wei, The Asian American Movement (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1993), 1.
  40. Tianlong Yu, “Challenging the Politics of the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype: A Case Study for Educational Equality,” Equity & Excellence in Education 39 (2006): 325 and 327.
  41. Robert C. Lieberman, Shifting the Color Line: Race and The American Welfare State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 27 and 174.
  42. Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1993), 416, emphasis mine.
  43. Doobo Shim, “From Yellow Peril Through Model Minority to Renewed Yellow Peril,” Journal of Communication Inquiry 22 (1998): 393.
  44. Takaki, A Different Mirror, 202.
  45. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (Hazleton, PA: The Penn State University Press, 2006 [1903]), 46.
  46. Robert E. Park, “Racial Assimilation in Secondary Groups with Particular Reference to the Negro,” American Journal of Sociology 19 (1914): 178-179.
  47. James S. Coleman, “Equality of Educational Opportunity (Coleman) Study (EEOS),” 1966, 20.
  48. “A Study of Selected Socio-Economic Characteristics of Ethnic Minorities Based on the 1970 Census. Volume II: Asian Americans,” Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Washington D.C., 1974).
  49. “Success of Asian Americans: Fact or Fiction?,” United States Commission on Civil Rights, 64 (1980), 4.
  50. Ibid., 17 and cf. 24.
  51. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/vsus.htm.
  52. “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: May 2011,” U.S. Census Profile America Facts for Features.
  53. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-90.html.
  54. Douglas S. Massey, “Why does Immigration Occur? A Theoretical Synthesis,” in The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience, eds. Charles Hirschman, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 19990), 48.
  55. Center for Immigration Studies, “Three Decades of Mass Immigration: The Legacy of the 1965 Immigration Act,” No. 3-95, September 1995.
  56. Ibid., 1 and 4.
  57. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, “The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act), http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ImmigrationAct.
  58. Public Law 89-236, “An Act to Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, and for other Purposes,” October 3, 1965, 913.
  59. Ibid., 917.
  60. “Three Decades of Mass Immigration,” 6.
  61. Ibid., 1.
  62. Ibid., 7.
  63. James Lee, “U.S. Naturalizations: 2011,” Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, Annual Flow Report, April 2012, 1.
  64. C. W. Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Class (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951), 63.
  65. Daniel Bell, The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 17.
  66. Sheldon Friedman, “The Effect of the US Immigration Act of 1965 on the flow of Skill Migrants from Less Developed Countries,” World Development 1 (1973).
  67. Friedman used the fiscal year rather than the calendar year to track better the effects of the 1965 Act, which was signed in early October, 1965.
  68. Friedman, “The Effect of the US Immigration Act of 1965,” 41.
  69. Ibid., 43.
  70. Bell, The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society, 15.
  71. Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 59.
  72. Gilbert Yochum and Vinod Agarwal, “Permanent Labor Certifications for Alien Professionals, 1975-1982,” International Migration Review 22 (1988): 266-270.
  73. “Success of Asian Americans: Fact or Fiction?,” 1980, 17.
  74. Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, 124.
  75. http://www.iie.org/en/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/Fast-Facts.
  76. I did not include Canada as a “European” nation but this country accounted for only 3.8% of all foreign students in the U.S. However, Asians from Canada or other European countries would increase the Asian SNRs in the U.S.
  77. Sandy Baum and Stella M. Flores, “Higher Education and Children in Immigrant Families,” Higher Education in Immigrant Children 21 (2011): 174.
  78. This is not true for the “third or higher” generation category and whereas Hispanics and Blacks may show intergenerational mobility, Asians and Whites may show the effects of subtractive acculturation; the latter is apparent for all groups in the third generation.
  79. AnnaLee Saxenian, “Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” (San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California, 1999), 3 and 6. Saxenian reports the same figures as Castells, footnote 74.
  80. Ibid., 10. In a follow-up study, Saxenian found that with respect to Chinese and Indian in-flows in the Silicon Valley area, the former were more likely to have received their education in the U.S. and then found employment whereas the latter were more likely to have been recruited directly or indirectly by their employer. About 25% of the foreign-born workers immigrated via H1-B Visas.
  81. http://www.gao.gov/assets/320/314501.pdf.
  82. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88154016.
  83. http://www.forbes.com/2009/02/24/bobby-jindal-indian-americans-opinions-contributors_-immigrants_minority-.html.
  84. Massey, “Why does Immigration Occur? A Theoretical Synthesis,” 49.
  85. “The Rise of Asian Americans,” 2012, 8.
  86. Ibid., 27.
  87. Kim and Kim, Top of the Class, 2.
  88. Pyong Gap Min, “Korean Americans,” in Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues, ed. Pyong Gap Min (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2006), 250.
  89. http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p20-566.pdf, 4.
  90. “The Rise of Asian Americans,” 2012, 2 and 61.
  91. http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~chua/.
  92. It was only in the 1963 that Edward Lorenz discovered “strange attractors” and it would take another decade before his work would become utilized.
  93. Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, 17.
  94. Wilson, More than Just Race, 21.
  95. Amy Chua, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Inequality (New York: Anchor Books, 2004), 3.
  96. Ibid., 1.
  97. See, for comparison, Henry H. Kim, “Asian Americans,” in Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health, eds. Sana Loue and Martha Sajatovic (New York: Springer, 2012), 221-226.
  98. Jayoung L. Choi, James R. Rogers and James L. Werth, Jr., “Suicide Risk Assessment with Asian American College Students: A Culturally Informed Perspective,” The Counseling Psychologist 37 (2009): 188.
  99. “Mental Health and Asian Americans,” The Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=6476.
  100. Algernon Austin, “Asian Americans Continued to Suffer the Most From Long-Term Unemployment in 2011,” (Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute, 2012).
  101. “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: May 2011,” U.S. Census Profile America Facts for Features.
  102. “The Rise of Asian Americans,” 2012, 7.
  103. Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandra Walton Radford, “A New Manhattan Project,” Inside Higher Ed., November 12, 2009.
  104. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Office of the General Counsel, “Closing the Achievement Gap: The Impact of Standards-Based Education Reform on Student Performance,” 12, http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall-/usccr/documents/closingachiegap.pdf.
  105. The point I make here is not to try to “integrate” sociology and theology but to provide some final thoughts as a self-identified Evangelical Christian. For a (highly) heuristic endeavor to incorporate these two disciplines, see for example Henry H. Kim, “Sociology + Theology = Multifractal Theology,” in Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion 2 (2011): 1-42.
  106. C. F. H. Henry, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1947), 72-73.

Henry Hyunsuk Kim

Wheaton College
Henry Hyunsuk Kim is Associate Professor of Sociology at Wheaton College.