Although assimilation theories acknowledge that the host society adopts aspects of migrant culture, empirical work continues to focus on the assimilation trajectories of immigrants. This study represents the first effort to investigate, on a national level, whether Asians and Hispanics exert a cultural influence on local populations. We assess this possibility by using ethnic restaurants–both national chain and local establishments–as a test case. County-level data is pooled from the decennial U.S. Census, the American Community Survey, the Economic Research Service, the Voting and Elections Collection from CQ Press, and Reference U.S.A. to investigate the association of interest; Nielsen Marketing data is used to further supplement analyses. Results indicate that Asians and Hispanics may indeed influence local community expressions of culture–both in terms of restaurant availability and the extent to which those outside of the co-ethnic community engage in restaurant ownership. Moreover, we find compelling evidence that assimilation may be stronger in locations with advantaged majority populations. In combination, this manuscript offers innovative theoretical perspectives as well as preliminary evidence to suggest assimilation is indeed a multidirectional process.
- relational assimilation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)