Getting Ahead

Social Mobility, Public Housing, and Immigrant Networks

278 pages

10 illustrations

December, 2013

ISBN: 9780814720783



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Silvia Domínguez is assistant professor of sociology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

All books by Silvia Dominguez

Honorable Mention, 2014 Distinguished Contribution to Research Award presented by the Latina/o Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association 
Getting Ahead tells the compelling stories of Latin-American immigrant women living in public housing in two Boston-area neighborhoods. Silvia Domínguez argues that these immigrant women parlay social ties that provide support and leverage to develop networks and achieve social positioning to get ahead. Through a rich ethnographic account and in-depth interviews, the strong voices of these women demonstrate how they successfully negotiate the world and achieve social mobility through their own individual agency, skillfully navigating both constraints and opportunities.

Domínguez makes it clear that many immigrant women are able to develop the social support needed for a rich social life, and leverage ties that open options for them to develop their social and human capital. However, she also shows that factors such as neighborhood and domestic violence and the unavailability of social services leave many women without the ability to strategize towards social mobility. Ultimately, Domínguez makes important local and international policy recommendations on issue ranging from public housing to world labor visas, demonstrating how policy can help to improve the lives of these and other low-income people.


  • “A valuable contribution to the understanding of Latin American immigrants in the U.S.”

    —Roberta Villalón, author of Violence Against Latina Immigrants: Citizenship, Inequality, and Community

  • "Getting Ahead by Silvia Dominguez makes an important contribution to the urban poverty literature by investigating the well being of low-income Latin American immigrants and their children in the post-welfare reform era. . . I urge readers to purchase this excellent book."

    —David Varady, Teachers College Record