- Center for Migration and Development
- PIIRS Migration Lab
- Program in American Studies
Portes considers the concept of “institutions” as currently defined in economics and sociology; proposes and justifies an alternative definition, and puts it into practice by using it as the basis of a comparative study of the role of institutions in national development in six different countries. Portes summarizes results of the study in terms of the characteristics making up institutions that fulfill the blueprints for which they were created and those capable of making a significant contribution to national development. “Causes of the causes” — that is those historical and political factors that contribute to shape the differential character of institutions and their potential for development — are also discussed. Portes closes with a defense of mid-term comparative studies — as opposed to single-organization ethnographies or cross-national analyses employing single scores to characterize entire countries — as the best strategy to move the field of development studies ahead in both economics and sociology.
Alejandro Portes is the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Sociology, Emeritus and a senior scholar at Princeton University. He is the author of 250 articles and chapters on national development, international migration, Latin American and Caribbean urbanization, and economic sociology. He has published 30 books and special issues. His books include City on the Edge – the Transformation of Miami (University of California Press, 1993), co-authored with Alex Stepick, and winner of the Robert Park Award for best book in urban sociology and the Anthony Leeds Award for best book in urban anthropology in 1995; and Immigrant America: A Portrait, 3rd edition (University of California Press, 2006), designated as a Centennial Publication by the University of California Press in 1996. His current research is on the adaptation process of the immigrant second generation in comparative perspective, the role of institutions on national development, and immigration and the American health system.