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Immigration Theory for a New Century: Some Problems and Opportunities

Alejandro Portes
The International Migration Review
Vol. 31, No. 4, Special Issue: Immigrant Adaptation and Native-Born Responses in the Making of Americans (Winter, 1997), pp. 799-825
DOI: 10.2307/2547415
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2547415
Page Count: 27
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Immigration Theory for a New Century: Some Problems and Opportunities
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Abstract

This essay examines some of the pitfalls in contemporary immigration theory and reviews some of the most promising developments in research in this field. As a data-driven field or study, immigration has not had to contend with grand generalizations for highly abstract theorizing. On the contrary, the bias has run in the opposite direction, that is toward ground-level studies of particular migrant groups or analysis of official migration policies. As the distillate of past research in the field and a source of guidance for future work, theory represents one of the most valuable products of our collective intellectual endeavor. Ways to foster it and problems presented by certain common misunderstandings about the meaning and scope of scientific theorizing are discussed.

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