Gold, Steven J. “Adaptation and Return among Israeli Enclave and Infotech Entrepreneurs.” In Immigration and Work (ed. Jody Agius Vallejo; Bingley: Emerald, 2015), 203-29.
Since the widespread adoption of the concept, transnational theorizing has attended to inequalities with regard to legal status, education, travel, and access to capital to understand the experience of migrant populations. This issue has become especially pertinent in recent years, as a growing body of journalistic and scholarly attention has been devoted to a new group of transnationals who work as entrepreneurs, professionals, and financiers involved in high tech and other cutting-edge economic activities. Regarded as among the world’s most powerful engines of economic growth and innovation, these entrepreneurs enjoy unprecedented levels of income, state-granted privileges (including permission to work), and access to elite institutions. Because of their level of resources, some observers contend that this group represents a fundamentally new category of immigrants distinct not only from labor migrants but also from merchants, professionals, and technicians.
To better understand their experience, this chapter draws on in-depth interviews and ethnographic research to compare two groups of Israeli immigrants living in Western societies: high-tech entrepreneurs and enclave entrepreneurs. Focusing on their economic and collective lives, it identifies similarities and differences among the two.
Conclusions suggest that the mostly male high-tech migrants do enjoy incomes, contacts, and access to travel that far exceed those available to labor and skilled migrants. Moreover, infotech immigrants are not dependent upon contacts with local co-ethnics that are vital for the survival of most other migrant populations. However, the communal, identity-related and familial concerns of infotech migrants are not completely amenable to their considerable resources. Accordingly, as they address these matters, their experience reveals significant similarities to those of migrants bearing a less privileged status.
Collective, familial and identificational issues play central roles in shaping patterns of work and travel among high-tech transnational entrepreneurs. As such, these issues deserve continued attention in studies of global migration and work.
Research is based on a multi-sited ethnographic study of Israeli enclave and infotech entrepreneurs.