9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN09 Economic Sociology

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Forms of Inequality Building AA, AA.229

Inter-ethnic differences in finding the first job by personal contacts

A growing body of research is devoted to the determinants of using personal contacts to get a job. Recently, inter-ethnic differences in finding a job by personal contacts are examined. Notwithstanding a few exceptions, the literature reveals that ethnic minorities make more use of contacts to find a job. The question remains why? This paper investigates the interplay between ethnicity and human, economic and social capital. It is hypothesized that the inter-ethnic differences in the disposable amount of these forms of capital can explain the different use of personal contacts. In addition, it is hypothesized that different socio-economic challenges result in different effects of each form of capital for the different ethnic minorities.

For these purposes, data are used of labour market entrants in Belgium with a native, Turkish, North-African or South-European origin (N=6486). The results are revealing: (1) Turkish and South-European, but not North-African, labour market entrants are more inclined to attain their first job by personal contacts than natives. This can partly be explained by their lower human capital and the social capital differences between ethnic minorities. (2) The determinants of using personal contacts for finding the first job are also different for the three ethnic minorities. Speaking Turkish at home is the most important determinant for the Turkish entrants, which can be interpreted both as a form of symbolic capital and as an indicator of the embeddedness in the Turkish community. Economic capital and gender are crucial factors for the South-European entrants. For the North-African entrants, human capital is the most determining form of capital. Implications for social capital theory and class theory are discussed.