This literature review examines the changing roles of ethnic enclaves, the question of their authenticity, and their value as commodified spaces, giving special attention to Little Italy neighborhoods in the United States. Understanding the roles of ethnic enclaves requires some understanding about immigrants’ identities. For some theorists, immigrants become blended into society over the course of generations; for other theorists, descendants of immigrants sometimes retain their cultural heritage and traits, helping form a multicultural or pluralist society. In the traditional sense, ethnic enclaves consist of both ethnic residents and ethnic businesses (such as restaurants, shops, and grocers). One way that ethnic enclaves change is when the area experiences a demographic shift, and people from outside the ethnic group move their residences and businesses to the neighborhood, resulting in the area becoming diversified in people and businesses. A second way that an ethnic enclave changes is when the ethnic group shrinks, but the shops and other businesses remain, resulting in the area becoming diversified in residents but not businesses. This latter situation may encourage commodification of the neighborhood’s ethnic identity, where a municipality or business association seeks to preserve an enclave’s ethnic reputation for tourism purposes. This commodification has implications for many individuals and groups within the enclave as well as outside of it.
Terzano, K. (2014). Commodification of Transitioning Ethnic Enclaves. Behavioral Sciences, 4(4), 341–351. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs4040341