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Bobo, Lawrence D.; Zubrinsky, Camille L.; Johnson, James H., Jr.; & Oliver, Melvin L. (1995). Work Orientation, Job Discrimination, and Ethnicity: A Focus Group Perspective. Research in the Sociology of Work, 5, 45-85.


Research on urban inequality spans liberal analyies that identify societal constraints to opponunily, to conservative analyses that identify cultural and individual failings as major sources or urban inequality. Yet, other studies draw attention to the potency of racial/ethnic discrimination or to more complicated multifactor models. Previous research has been constrained, however, by reliance on aggregate statistical analyses or a reliance on context specific ethnographic research and a heavy emphasis on Black-white comparisons. As a consequence, our knowledge of actual patterns of individual behavior in the contemporary urban labor market and the implications of the rapidly increasing ethnic diversity in major urban centers remains limited. We employed focus group discussions as an exploratory tool in the development of a more systematic survey-based inquiry into modern urban labor market behavior. This paper reports on 12 focus roup discussions held with Black (2), white (2), Latino (4), Korean (2), and Chinese (2) rescidents of Los Angeles County, discussions that concerned a range of labor market and intergroup relations issues. The discussions identify similarities and differences in job search behavior, perceptions of an ideal job, beliefs about opponunities for young adults, and ethnic diversity in the workplace. Althouth by their nature merely suggestive of broader dynamics, the focus group results considerably complicate traditional models of behavior in
the urban labor market and point to imponant new directions for future research.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Research in the Sociology of Work


Bobo, Lawrence D.
Zubrinsky, Camille L.
Johnson, James H., Jr.
Oliver, Melvin L.