UAlbany Sociologist will Investigate the Role of Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Urban Redevelopment in Los Angeles

Dr. Angie Y. Chung, Sociology, will investigate the role of immigrant entrepreneurs in promoting urban (re)development projects in Monterey Park, California, and the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, which contain enclaves of Chinese and Korean immigrants, respectively. The findings from Dr. Chung’s research may help local government officials and policymakers work better with immigrant leaders on issues of economic development and devise strategies for balanced growth that could reduce overdevelopment, environmental damage and interracial conflict.

Professor Chung is an urban sociologist with a focus on immigration, transnationalism, race and ethnicity, gender and family, and Asian and Asian American Studies. Her present research examines the political incorporation of pro-growth coalitions made up of immigrant entrepreneurs, political leaders, large-scale developers, and transnational investors from the Pacific Rim that have built their fortunes around luxury condos, office buildings, high-end restaurants, and other profitable ventures in fast-growing ethnic enclave economies. The project will evaluate how such economic development in these ethnic communities have impacted workers and residents, in terms of the commercialization of culture, the privatization and fortressing of public spaces, environmental damage, and heightened segregation between the rich and the poor.

The findings from the proposed study are expected to advance our knowledge of the new immigrant elites and transnational players who are driving the processes of urban (re)development and the resulting political changes amidst white flight and racial/ ethnic transition since the 1960s. The project will shed light on how the politics of land use, investment and development are becoming increasingly linked to economies beyond our nation’s borders as a result of real estate investment from overseas, and how this may delocalize decision-making processes away from municipal governments and complicate local growth control efforts.

The study is funded by a $137,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and involves a collaboration with co-investigators Dr. Jan Lin of Occidental College and Dr. Sookhee Oh of the University of Kansas City – Missouri. Professor Chung will spend this summer at the CUNY Graduate Center as a Visiting Research Scholar before moving to the University of California – Los Angeles for the Fall 2015 semester. She will conduct interviews and participant observation as a visiting researcher at  UCLA's Asian American Studies Program.