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The making and transnationalization of an ethnic niche: Vietnamese manicurists.

Authors
  • Eckstein, Susan
  • Nguyen, Thanh-Nghi
Type
Published Article
Journal
The International migration review
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2011
Volume
45
Issue
3
Pages
639–674
Identifiers
PMID: 22171362
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The article addresses how Vietnamese immigrant women developed an urban employment niche in the beauty industry, in manicuring. They are shown to have done so by creating a market for professional nail care, through the transformation of nailwork into what might be called McNails, entailing inexpensive, walk-in, impersonal service, in stand-alone salons, nationwide, and by making manicures and pedicures de riguer across class and racial strata. Vietnamese are shown to have simultaneously gained access to institutional means to surmount professional manicure credentializing barriers, and to have developed formal and informal ethnic networks that fueled their growing monopolization of jobs in the sector, to the exclusion of non-Vietnamese. The article also elucidates conditions contributing to the Vietnamese build-up and transformation of the niche, to the nation-wide formation of the niche and, most recently, to the transnationalization of the niche. It also extrapolates from the Vietnamese manicure experience propositions concerning the development, expansion, maintenance, and transnationalization of immigrant-formed labor market niches.

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