Fast Food, Fast Track: Immigrants, Big Business, and the American Dream

Hardback
No longer just pocket money for American teens, wages paid by multinational fast-food chains are going to a new generation of order-takers, burger-flippers, and basket-fryers newly arrived immigrants. Hailing from China, the Caribbean, Latin America, and India, a colorful sea of faces has taken its place behind one of the most ubiquitous American business institutions the fast-food counter. They have become a vital link between the growing service sector in our cities ethnic enclaves and the multi-billion dollar global fast-food industry. For four years, sociologist Jennifer Parker Talwar went behind the counter herself and listened to immigrant fast-food workers in New York Citys ethnic communities. They talked about balancing their low-paying jobs and monotonous daily reality with keeping the faith that these very jobs could be the first step on the path to the American Dream. In this original and compelling work of ethnography, Talwar shows that contrary to those arguing that the fast-food industry only represents an increasing homogenization of the American workforce, fast-food chains in immigrant communities must and do adapt to their surroundings. Rather than focusing on how ethnic communities become relatively sealed off from the larger economy, Talwar explores the interplay between globalizing mainstream forces like fast-food chains and the immigrant communities of our largest and most diverse cities.