Calavita, Kitty 1944–
Calavita, Kitty 1944–
Born July 20, 1944. Education: University of Delaware, Ph.D., 1980.
University of California, Irvine, professor of sociology.
California's "Employer Sanctions": The Case of the Disappearing Law, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (La Jolla, CA), 1982.
U.S. Immigration Law and the Control of Labor, 1820-1924, Academic Press (Orlando, FL), 1984.
Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration, and the I.N.S., Routledge (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Henry N. Pontell and Robert H. Tillman) Big Money Crime: Fraud and Politics in the Savings and Loan Crisis, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.
Kitty Calavita is a sociologist whose work focuses on issues relating to immigration. In Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration, and the I.N.S., she offers a comprehensive analysis of the program that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service developed to deal with migrant agricultural workers entering the United States from Mexico. Reviewing the book in the International Migration Review, Rodolfo O. De La Garza observed that it "makes a significant contribution in what it reveals about how well INS directors understood and responded to the contradictory pressures immigration generates. On the one hand, employers, including but not limited to agriculture, want a continuous supply of cheap controllable labor…. On the other hand, the nation since the 1930s has demanded secure borders and controlled immigration." What's more, De La Garza wrote, the book "clearly describes how different INS commissioners protected their agency while living with this contradiction."
Calavita widens her perspective in Immigrants at the Margins: Law, Race, and Exclusion in Southern Europe, which Political Science Quarterly critic Terri E. Givens considered a "very insightful and important analysis of the economics of immigration, immigrant integration, and the law in action in Spain and Italy." Though these countries had previously experienced significant outflows of workers, by the early 2000s they were receiving large numbers of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe willing to take lowpaying jobs. Coping with this relatively sudden influx has proved challenging. As Givens explained, Calavita's research shows that "the niches that these immigrants fill, along with laws that often lead to their illegal status, contribute to their exclusion, despite vigorous efforts to integrate them." Despite laws meant to facilitate immigrants' integration into the host culture, for example, both Italy and Spain make legal status contingent on an immigrant's possession of a work permit. But many migrants cannot obtain these work permits because the only jobs they can find are within the black market economy. Calavita adds that, because immigrants in Spain and Italy tend to be impoverished, this poverty further separates them from mainstream society and relegates them to the status of "new untouchables" who do work that local residents generally consider beneath their dignity.
Marc-Georges Pufong, writing in the Law and Politics Book Review, praised Calavita's "challenging and breathtaking" attention to detail, adding that she "sees contradiction in Italian and Spanish immigration laws that treat immigrants exclusively as workers with legal status contingent on their continued work permit. In her view, these laws pull into two directions. They cautiously welcome immigrants as workers on one hand, and yet on the other, restrict their ability to settle by denying them permanent residence, while underwriting ambitious programs designed to integrate them into the social and cultural life of the community." Calavita's argument, Pufong went on to say, "demonstrates the gap between law and the rhetoric of politics" and "depicts irony in policies and laws that welcome, while at the same time reject immigrants as community members in both Spain and Italy." Immigrants at the Margins, Pufong concluded "is quite penetrating."
In Big Money Crime: Fraud and Politics in the Savings and Loan Crisis, Calavita and coauthors Henry N. Pontell and Robert H. Tillman examine the U.S. savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. Widely seen as the worst economic disaster of the century, if not of all time, the savings and loan crisis encompassed the collapse of more than a thousand savings and loan institutions, which operate much like banks; according to Calavita and her coauthors, the collapse cost American taxpayers about 500 billion dollars. Various theories have been offered to explain the root causes of the savings and loan failures, including deregulation and abstract economic forces such as the federal government's efforts to stop inflation. Calavita, Pontell, and Tillman, however, blame white-collar scam artists who engaged in fraud, insider trading, and other abuses to bilk savings institutions. As Big Money makes clear, the crisis stemmed mostly from the greed of "bad men and women [who] took advantage of bad policies."
Changes in the global finance system, Calavita and her coauthors explain, have led to an environment that rewards speculation and encourages investors to seek windfall profits through clever maneuvering of funds rather than from the production and sale of goods. "The proliferation of finance capitalism has created new opportunities for white-collar crime, as the amount that can be reaped from financial fraud is limited only by one's imagination," write Calavita, Pontell, and Tillman. What's more, because they have no long-term investments in the infrastructures of their institutions, "perpetrators of financial fraud have little to lose by their reckless behavior. Their main concern is to make it big quickly, before the inevitable collapse."
L.J. Davis, however, writing in Washington Monthly, criticized Big Money's thesis as obvious and unoriginal, and its data as "seriously flawed." But a Publishers Weekly contributor found the book an "engrossing cautionary tale and detailed narrative of institutional fraud that the authors continually liken to organized crime."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Calavita, Kitty, Henry N. Pontel, and Robert H. Tillman, Big Money Crime: Fraud and Politics in the Savings and Loan Crisis, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.
Calavita, Kitty, Immigrants at the Margins: Law, Race, and Exclusion in Southern Europe, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
American Journal of Sociology, September, 2006, Helen B. Marrow, review of Immigrants at the Margins, p. 637.
American Studies International, October, 1994, Daniel Mitchell, review of Inside the State: The Bracero Program, Immigration, and the I.N.S., p. 96.
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January, 1999, James R. Barth, review of Big Money Crime, p. 214.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February, 1998, D.O. Friedrichs, review of Big Money Crime, p. 1039.
Contemporary Sociology, July, 1993, Frank D. Bean, review of Inside the State, p. 563; May, 1998, Davita Silfen Glasberg, review of Big Money Crime, p. 305; July, 2007, David Kyle, review of Immigrants at the Margins, p. 367.
Criminal Justice Review, spring, 1999, Brian K. Payne, review of Big Money Crime.
Economic History Review, May, 1999, Geofrey T. Mills, review of Big Money Crime, p. 393.
International Journal of the Sociology of Law, June, 1998, Rowan Bosworth-Davies, review of Big Money Crime, p. 277.
International Migration Review, winter, 1993, Rodolfo O. De La Garza, review of Inside the State.
Journal of Economic Literature, June, 1998, review of Big Money Crime, p. 1037.
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, April, 2007, Isabel Estrada Carvalhais, review of Immigrants at the Margins, p. 523.
Latin American Perspectives, November, 2001, Tamar Diana Wilson, review of Inside the State, p. 70.
Law and Politics Book Review, January, 2006, Marc-Georges Pufong, review of Immigrants at the Margins, p. 31.
Law and Social Inquiry, spring, 1995, Susan Sterett, review of Inside the State; fall, 2005, review of Immigrants at the Margins.
Law & Society Review, November, 1993, Marjorie S. Zatz, review of Inside the State, p. 851; December, 2006, Cecilia Menjivar, review of Immigrants at the Margins, p. 965.
New Law Journal, July 15, 2005, Doron Blum, review of Immigrants at the Margins, p. 1079.
Political Science Quarterly, spring, 2006, Terri E. Givens, review of Immigrants at the Margins.
Publishers Weekly, October 20, 1997, review of Big Money Crime, p. 63.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 1993, review of Inside the State, p. 23.
Reviews in American History, December, 1997, Gerda W. Ray, review of Big Money Crime, p. 680.
Washington Monthly, October, 1997, L.J. Davis, review of Big Money Crime, p. 53.
University of California, Irvine, Department of Criminology, Law and Society,http://socialecology.uci.edu/ (April 7, 2008), faculty profile.