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Upward Social Mobility of the Koreans in Hawaii Wayne Patterson SAINT NORBERT COLLEGE I STUDIES of immigrant groups usually include an assessment of the group's relative rate of upward mobility and the speed and degree to which it shed the ways of the old world and adopted the values of the new. The success or lack of success in adjusting to a new home is frequently attributed to the conditions in the receiving country. But because this approach at best can provide only a partial explanation for the adjustment of an immigrant group to its new surroundings, researchers have attempted to refine their analyses by examining the values and traditions of the old country from which emigration took place. To be sure, the combination of old-country traditions and new-country conditions in the analysis of adjustments has helped explain the record of immigrant groups in their ascension of the socioeconomic ladder and their shedding of traditional values in the new country. ' Yet the addition of an analysis of old-country traditions and values to the explanatory model rests upon the assumption that the immigrants are representative of those traditions and values. That is, the analysis of old-country traditions in helping to explain upward social mobility in the new country is only as valid as the emigrants are typical. For instance, emigrants differ from their countrymen in at least one respect—their de1 . Some representative works for East Asians are Betty Lee Sung, The Chinese in America (New York: Collier Books, 1967) and Harry H. L. Kitano, Japanese Americans: TheEvolution ofa Subculture (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969). 82PATTERSON sire to leave the homeland, if even for a short while. If the assumption of the typicality of an immigrant group cannot be justified, then the analysis of social mobility in the new country must be modified to take this divergence into consideration. In addition to the need to question the assumption that the emigrants are typical there is a second assumption that needs to be questioned . This is the assumption that social mobility or adjustment in the new country is independent of events and conditions in the old country. Such a caveat is not as obvious as the first but will become apparent at length. Broadly speaking, it is the thesis of this article that the adjustment of immigrant groups cannot be adequately explained solely by analyzing old-country traditions and new-country conditions. The model must include a close look at the immigrants themselves apart from the traditional order and also a close look at conditions and events in the old country. II This essay represents a preliminary attempt to apply such an analysis to the Koreans in Hawaii. It is fair to consider Koreans in Hawaii as being practically synonymous with Koreans in America, for from the time of their immigration seventy-five years ago until recently there were about five times as many Koreans in Hawaii as in the entire American mainland. While the observations of this essay are limited to the Koreans in Hawaii, their import extends to include all of the Koreans in America. Korea was the last of the three East Asian nations to have some of its population emigrate to Hawaii. About fifty thousand Chinese had come between 1850 and annexation in 1898. From 1885 until the Gentleman 's Agreement in 1907-1908, about 180,000 Japanese arrived.2 The Koreans numbered but 7,000 and came in the years 1903, 1904, and the first half of 1905.3 All three of these East Asian peoples had been recruited for work in the sugarcane fields by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association . Since their arrival in America the more numerous Japanese have achieved middle class status, overcoming racial prejudice, discrimination , and the infamous relocation camps of World War II. Their almost phenomenal record of adjustment and upward social mobility has been 2.Romanzo Adams, Interracial Marriage in Hawaii (New York: Macmillan, 1937), pp. 31-32. 3.For the history of Korean immigration to Hawaii, see Wayne K. Patterson, "The Korean Frontier in America: Immigration to Hawaii, 1896-1910" (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1977). SOCIAL MOBILITY OF KOREANS83 amply documented...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1529
Print ISSN
0145-840X
Pages
pp. 81-92
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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