Gary Hytrek and Kristine Zentgraf, Sociology.
Published in February by Oxford University Press, America Transformed: Globalization, Inequality and Power discusses the interconnection of the world culturally, socially, politically and economically. Is globalization inevitable? American Transformed analyzes the links among global processes and shifting patterns of stratification, inequality and social mobility in the U.S. “One central focus of the book, is how the processes of globalization affect work and hollow out the occupational structures, which means greater polarization as middle-range living-wage jobs are replaced by highly paid knowledge jobs at one end, and low paid care and informal ones at the other,” said co-author Gary Hytrek. Who is likely to be located in either category is heavily determined by race, ethnicity, and gender. The book also examines how the U.S. rural economy depends on new forms of low-wage labor in places such as the Nebraska town of O’Neill, population 3,000, where the restructuring of agriculture is reflected in the emergence of potato production in a historically grain-producing region. Today, half the labor in the O’Neill potato factory is Latino. “Most of the packing houses in the Midwest depend on Latino workers,” he said. In the South, “managers of chicken packing plants argue that without Latino immigrants, no one in the U.S. would be eating chicken.” These dramatic demographic changes often occur without accompanying infrastructure, as in the Deep South,” he said. But immigration is not limited to low-skilled labor. Overall, “we’re seeing an influx of skilled as well as low-skilled laborers,” he added. Software technicians and engineers come to study in the U.S. from all over the world, and white-collar professional American workers move throughout the world as they accompany the movement of their corporations. Immigration is no longer a one-way movement from the south to the north. It is multi-directional. Globalization means the end of the brain drain phenomenon and the emergence of the “brain circulation.”