Title

The Colombian migration to South Florida: the effect of social capital on the formation of immigrant communities

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor's Name

Anthony P. Maingot

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Eduardo A. Gamarra

Third Advisor's Name

Mike W. Collier

Date of Defense

11-25-2002

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine formal and informal networks within the South Florida Colombian community. The qualitative, ethnographic study used research from personal interviews, focus groups, and observations, placed within a theoretical framework based predominantly on Putnam’s conceptualization of social capital, as well as previous research on immigrant and Colombian communities. The resulting analysis focused on Colombian immigrant solidarity and social capital in South Florida, examining the role of the context of reception and the effects of social structures on levels of trust and reciprocity.

The results showed that a non-receptive immigration policy, socio-economic differentiation in migration waves, and spatial fragmentation within the receiving community, hinder community-building. There were incipient signs of civic engagement, yet Colombian leadership as well as individual Colombians perceived that the community lacked solidarity. Both formal and informal networks are best characterized as fragmented and guided by pre-existing social structures. The findings showed that a unique context of arrival and low levels of social capital have challenged Colombian immigrants’ ability to create the type of community cohesion that would facilitate their transition to life in South Florida.

Identifier

FI14052595

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