Toiling in the Shadows of Affluence: High-Amenity Resort Destinations

Awarded Scholars:
Ron Mize, Oregon State University
Project Date:
Feb 2014
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Future of Work

High-amenity destinations are recent recipients of significant influxes of Mexican immigrants. Clustered in the ski resort areas of the Rocky Mountains, immigrants are central to a service economy that caters some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. Unlike affluent suburban destinations, the ski resort destinations are extremely isolated spaces with limited housing options. Migration scholars have produced a large body of work on new destinations and contexts of reception, but much of this work fails to consider how these contexts make them more or less receptive to newcomers.

Sociologist Ronald Mize will address this gap by investigating how three locales—Colorado’s I-70 ski corridor, Utah’s Park City, and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole—are differentially negotiating immigrant incorporation and community-level inequalities. Mize will address several research questions, including: How has the widening gap between rich and poor either been mitigated or perpetuated in high-amenity resort destinations? What are localities doing to repel, attract, or incorporate immigrants? With some of the most expensive housing in the nation, is affordable housing for immigrants addressed in the various localities? How and to what extent are immigrant service providers filling gaps in housing, education, social services, health, and citizenship pathways not provided by local, state, and federal governments? How are undocumented immigrants traversing their status of living in the shadows of the law? Building on previous work, Mize will use in-depth case studies examine how localities respond to immigrant newcomers and the institutional forms of inequality in concentrated areas of wealth. He will investigate how these destinations’ most marginalized socio-economic and racialized groups are faring. Mize will draw on both Census and American Community Survey data, as well as analyze in-depth interview transcripts.


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