Clique networks and the “clique effect” among undocumented migrants from Mexico to the United States

Nadia Y. Flores, Texas A&M University

Recent research has shown that processes of cumulative causation, which derive from the accumulation of social capital within specific places, occurs not only in small villages but also in medium-sized urban communities and in urban neighborhoods (Fussell and Massey 2004; Flores et al. 2004) These findings are puzzling given that sociological theory suggests that social solidarity weakens with urbanization and industrialization (Durkheim [1933] 1984, Wirth 1938). Drawing upon qualitative and quantitative data, I offer evidence in support of my theoretical argument that urban-based migrant networks are weak and mostly effective for helping people get to the United States. Once in the country, however, these networks prove fragile and urban migrants therefore gravitate to already- established rural-based networks through a process I call the “clique effect.” The clique effect helps to understand how, why, and under what circumstances cumulative causation may occur among migrants from urban places of origin.

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Presented in Poster Session 5