Hierarchy in Social Minority Groups Vol. 1: The Structure of Separation in Lima and Tokyo

In many social minority groups, the group members are not necessarily equal, and there is social hierarchy within the communities. By analyzing the previous readings, “the Mechanism of Ethnic Retention: Later-Generation Japanese Immigrants in Lima, Peru” and “the Chinese Social Dance Party in Tokyo: Identity and Status in an Immigrant Leisure Subculture,” this post proves that minority groups tend to create hierarchic structure in their society and differentiate people.

First of all, Japanese-Peruvian immigrants in Lima formed hierarchy based on socioeconomic standards, and they were mainly divided in three ways: peasants or intellectuals, Okinawans or non-Okinawans, and rich or poor.

1, In the Japanese-Peruvian communities, there was a border between peasants and so-called intellectuals such as embassy officials, businesspeople, and emigration company personnel. Ayumi Takenaka claims, “the poorer immigrants continued to be treated by Japanese bureaucrats and businessmen as ‘second-class citizens’” (471). Therefore, the poor peasants were subordinate to the intellectuals.

2, These Japanese-Peruvian immigrants were also separated between Okinawans and non-Okinawans. “Okinawan immigrants tended to have a lower level of education, occupy lower-rung economic positions in Lima, and speak a distinct dialect of their own” while many of non-Okinawans were members of intellectual classes (471). Hence, the Okinawans were discriminated and excluded from the community by the rest of Japanese immigrants.

3, The immigrants established a community called Japanese-Peruvian Association (APJ), which allowed all Japanese to join. However, there was also hierarchy and exclusion. Although economically privileged immigrants always occupied leadership and important positions of the community, the other poorer immigrants were excluded from the association because they could not afford to pay high membership and activity fees.

Next, Chinese immigrants in Tokyo had similar hierarchic structure in their dance party as Japanese-Peruvian community. They were separated by region, and the level of education.

1, As Japanese-Peruvians were divided into Okinawans and non-Okinawans, the Chinese immigrants were mainly separated into two groups: Northeasterners and Fujian people. Gracia Liu Farrer joined the dance party herself and explains, “Regional grouping was the strongest among the less educated and socially stigmatized who could find no more advantageous status distinctions” (663). Since Fujian is notorious for illegal immigrations and human trafficking, the people from Fujian are discriminated by the rest of Chinese immigrants.

2, Also, the immigrants made groups by their levels of education. Farrer contends that better-educated people were more privileged by higher status while less-educated immigrants were not in their dance party.

In these ways, both Japanese-Peruvians in Lima and Chinese immigrants in Tokyo composed hierarchy to separate immigrants. As the result, the excluded people were subordinate to the others in better and higher positions. Each member was not equal at all, and in particular, hierarchy and separation based on socioeconomic reasons are obvious within the communities.

Works Cited

Farrer, G.L. (2004). The Chinese Social Dance Party in Tokyo: Identity and Status in an Immigrant Leisure Subculture. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 33 (6), 651-674.

Takenaka, A. (2003). The Mechanism of Ethnic Retention: Later-Generation Japanese Immigrants in Lima, Peru. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29 (3), 467-483.

by Masayuki Tanaka

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