Hierarchy in Social Minority Groups Vol. 2: Why Do People Separate Themselves?

My last blog post, Hierarchy in Social Minority Groups Vol. 1: The Structure of Separation in Lima and Tokyo, proved that minority groups tend to create hierarchic structure in their community and differentiate people. By showing the examples of Japanese-Peruvian immigrants and Chinese immigrants, this blog post explains the reason why people make hierarchy and separate themselves.

First of all, many Japanese-Peruvians established their community, and there was discrimination against peasants, Okinawans and the poor in the associations. However, they were also inferior to upper-class immigrants and Japanese embassy or mainland Japan. For example, in Peru, “upper-class, high-ranked Japanese Peruvians, such as the owners of major corporations and former President Fujimori, tend to stay away from community activities” (473).

In addition, the Japanese embassy in Peru and mainland Japan were also in superior position to the Nikkei community. Takenaka argues, “Japanese-Peruvians have always kept a subordinate position to Japan since the beginning. The hierarchical relationship reflects the nature of financial assistance that Japan has extended to community associations…” (477). Therefore, the whole picture of hierarchy is divided into three major groups: upper-class immigrants and Japanese embassy on the top, middle-class immigrants, association members, in the middle, and the poor at the bottom.

Next, Chinese immigrants in social dance party labeled themselves by education and region. However, they were also discriminated against by upper-class immigrants. One Northeasterner did not socialize with other Northeasterners in the dance party because he thought “Reberu (level) are different” (663). In the dance party, they were superior to the Fujian people and others, but even the Northeasterners were discriminated by high-class immigrants.

Both Japanese-Peruvians immigrants and Chinese immigrants were subordinated, and therefore, these community members discriminated against people and made hierarchy within the community. In general, all human beings always want to stay in advantageous status. But when they find someone in superior positions, they make hierarchy within their community and discriminate lower-class people for many reasons, such as lack of education, region and socioeconomic status. By creating hierarchic structure, people can stay on the top of social pyramid. This is the reason of hierarchy and separation of social minority groups.

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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