Social Mobility through the Lens of Housing: Comparing and Explaining the Social Trajectories of Children of Migrants in the United States from the Censuses (1910-1950)

Gabrielle Escaich, ERC Lubartworld, Ecole Normale Supérieure, New York University

This presentation aims to analyze the trajectories of social mobility of children of Polish immigrants in the United States based on the US censuses from 1910 to 1950. Our approach consists in following, through the censuses, a circumscribed and exhaustive population: the children (about 200 in total) of all the migrants coming from the same small Polish town, Lubartów, and who immigrated to the United States between the 1900s and 1950. While social science research using censuses in a quantitative approach most often conducts analyses on a large number of individuals, following a relatively small number of individuals in a longitudinal approach makes it possible to combine the quantitative approach with an ethnographic perspective on these administrative sources. Moreover, focusing on individuals whose parents come from the same (small) town allows for a detailed analysis and explanation of convergences and divergences in social trajectories. We combine several scales of analysis to compare and explain social trajectories from the censuses. On the one hand, trajectories are analyzed at the individual level: what are the different socio-professional statuses of individuals over the censuses? How do the socio-demographic characteristics of these individuals (gender, age, nationality, etc.) explain these statuses and their evolution? On the other hand, these trajectories are analyzed from a relational perspective, using housing as the unit of analysis. Do the characteristics of housing as a whole (number of co-residents, type of housing, types of ties between co-residents, etc.) influence the social trajectories of these children of migrants? How can we explain the divergent trajectories within the same dwelling, for example between siblings? Aiming to identify the determinants of social mobility trajectories of descendants of migrants, this paper also question the methodological issues raised by the historical use of administrative sources such as the censuses to analyze social trajectories.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 182. Social Mobilities