Immigrant business and the racialization of work : a tale of two niches in Texas' Vietnamese communities




Ha, Thao Le-Thanh

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This dissertation will examine the Vietnamese communities of Texas and consists of two parts. The first part explores the circumstances that stimulated the growth and eventual dominance of Vietnamese immigrants in two entrepreneurial niches – the nail salon and the shrimping industry. This study is thus a sociological examination of private enterprise, and the first research objective is to investigate the roles of the various market and non-market factors that were crucial in fueling the development of these two businesses. In the sociology of entrepreneurship, a key concern is locating the causal determinants of entrepreneurship. That is, aside from regular market forces, the social conditions associated with patterns of entrepreneurship need to be investigated. This study therefore explores the political, institutional, and cultural circumstances that help to explain the development of the nail salon and fishery businesses in Texas that market forces cannot govern. The second research objective of this dissertation is to use a racial formations framework to investigate the racial implications of the proliferation of these two entrepreneurial niches in their respective communities. The growth and spread of these businesses have had consequences for the loss of traditional community, the construction of racial identity, and the maintenance or reconstruction of new racial identity in the context of a multicultural work setting that includes other racial and ethnic minorities. The following seeks to provide insight into these racial phenomena by way of the case of Vietnamese Americans engaged in entrepreneurship.




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