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Middleman Minorities

Pyong Gap Min

Subject Sociology » Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

Key-Topics minorities

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

Before the1960s, social scientists usually used the dichotomous concepts of majority-minority groups or dominant-subordinate groups to discuss ethnic and race relations in the United States and other multi-ethnic societies. However, they found they needed a new concept to refer to those minority groups that stood between these two poles in social status and economic role. Thus, they created the concept of middleman minorities to refer to these intermediate groups since the 1960s ( Blalock 1967 : 79–84; Eitzen 1971 ; Bonacich 1972 ; Bonacich & Modell 1980 ; Turner & Bonacich 1980 ; Zenner 1991 ; Min 1996 ). The most important characteristic of middleman minorities is their intermediary economic role between the producers of the dominant group and the consuming masses (minority customers). Middleman minority members bridge a huge status gap existent in the host society by distributing products made by members of the ruling group to minority customers. Thus, their businesses are heavily concentrated in trade in low-income minority neighborhoods. Middleman minorities are also characterized by their subjection to “host hostility.” On the one hand, middleman merchants encounter boycotts and arson of their stores, and other forms of rejection, by minority customers they serve. On the other hand, in time of political crisis, they can be scapegoated by the ruling group that ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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