Posted on September 3, 2008

In the Produce Aisle, Solidarity for Korean Grocers

Sewell Chan, New York Times, September 3, 2008


The sociologist, Pyong Gap Min, who also teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, offers a look at the complex role that ethnicity plays in immigrant businesses in New York in the book, “Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival: Korean Greengrocers in New York City,” published recently by the Russell Sage Foundation, which finances research in the social sciences.

Among the most interesting insights in the book are Dr. Min’s explanation for why “Korean-black conflicts, which peaked in the later 1980s and early 1990s, have almost disappeared since the mid-1990s,” and his descriptions of how Korean grocers organized themselves to gain more leverage in their dealings with white wholesalers at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx. He argues that ethnicity has waned as an organizing principle for the grocers over the years: