Middleman Minority

The Triple Package

Middleman minority (also known as market-dominant minorities) is any minority population that, while subject to discrimination, does not hold an ‘extreme subordinate’ status in society. There are numerous examples of such groups gaining eventual prosperity in their adopted country despite discrimination. Often, they will take on roles between producer and consumer, such as trading and moneylending.

Famous examples such as Jews throughout Europe even at times when the discrimination against them was at their peak such as during World War II they still had great success in some parts of Europe, Chinese throughout Southeast Asia, Parsis in India, Igbos in Nigeria, Indians in East Africa, people from the Soviet Blocs in the USA during the Cold War, and many others.

Stereotypically, middleman minorities are thrifty and save a large portion of their incomes, and have limited interaction with the native population in a country. Education is placed at a high premium among all of these groups, and they usually become the most successful ethnic groups in a society soon after they immigrate (even though they are often poor when they first arrive). Middleman minorities usually provide an economic benefit to communities and nations and often start new industries. However, they can cause resentment among the native population of a country for things such as economic aptitude, financial success, clannishness, prejudices and paranoia against businesses and moneylending among other groups, and disproportionate representation in universities and in politics, high representation in commerce and some high end white collar professional and managerial positions. Middleman Minorities can be victims of violence, genocide, racist programs, or other forms of repression. Other ethnic groups often accuse them of plotting conspiracies against their nation or of stealing wealth from the native population.

Middleman minorities are often compared to ‘Model minorities’ (high achieving minority groups), however, the two are different in the fact that Middleman minorities also often have high degrees of social and political power that can partially to moderately influence and shape the culture and society of the country they are in whereas Model minorities do not have such power. Middleman minorities are also different in the fact that they have disproportionate representation in all sectors of the societies ranging from business to politics whereas Model minorities usually are only over-represented in educational and economic success. Model minorities tend to be much more isolated and subordinate groups that have little to no participation in their countries preferring to focus more on individual educational and economic goals while Middleman minorities have high-degrees of participation in their societies and they prefer to pursue success in all aspects of their countries. Lastly, the major defining quality of Middleman minorities is that they have some amount of autonomy and aren’t completely subordinate to the dominant group of their given society unlike all other ethnic groups.

Examples of Middleman minorities include: Ottoman Jews in the Ottoman Empire, American Jews in the United States, European Jews in Europe, Irish and Italian Americans in the United States during the 19th century (especially early New York City), Azerbaijanis in Iran, Marwaris in Burma, Southern and Eastern Europeans in the Americas in the 19th and early 20th century, people from the Soviet Blocs in the United States during the Cold War, Asian Indians in East Africa, Chinese in Southeast Asia, Parsis in India, Igbos in Nigeria, Croats in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Lebanese in West Africa, and Japanese in South America.

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