This article examines the social uses of immigrant business spaces that correspond to different stages of breakout, or the movement of a business from a limited, primarily co-ethnic customer base to a wider, primarily non-co-ethnic customer base. Using participant observation and interview data from three Latino immigrant-dominated shopping malls in the USA, we assess how the degree of breakout at each mall and the resulting degree of heterogeneity in customers is associated with different kinds of social uses of the spaces. We find that Latino immigrant business spaces that have yet to begin a transition towards breakout are important sites of bonding for Latino immigrants and serve to strengthen their ethnic solidarity. Latino immigrant business spaces that are in the midst of transitioning towards breakout facilitate casual interaction between Latino immigrant and non-Latino residents, while those Latino immigrant entrepreneur spaces that have achieved breakout act as spaces of cultural consumption by non-Latinos.
- cross-cultural interaction