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The economics of attachment: Immigrants employment experiences and attachment to Canada

TitleThe economics of attachment: Immigrants employment experiences and attachment to Canada
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKazemipur, A.
Keywordsattachment, canada, economic experiences, immigration, relational, sense of belonging

For a long time, the integration of immigrants into host societies was largely understood as an inevitable process that starts with the immigrants' apriori (pre-migration) decision to assimilate (or not) into the culture of the host society. This mode of understanding fell out of favor in the last two decades of the 20th century; recently, however, in response to the rising ethnic/cultural diversity of immigrant-receiving countries, this perspective seems to be experiencing a comeback. Using the data from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC), the present study challenges all three components of this perspective - i.e., its 'apriori' element, its 'assimilationist' orientation, and its 'cultural' emphasis. The study examines the influence of immigrants' economic experiences on their degree of attachment to Canada, showing that the latter is the product of a relational process, constantly changing as a result of changes in the nature of the relationship between immigrants and the structural features of the host society. The results also show that the negative economic experiences of immigrants quickly translate themselves into a weaker attachment to Canada on the part of immigrants. In this regard, the initial years after arrival are crucial in shaping the immigrants' perceptions of Canada and their own place within the society. While the first six months after arrival might not generate much of a consistent and sustained pattern, immigrants start shaping their general views by the second year of stay. It is argued that such general views could then act as broad conceptual frameworks, within which all the subsequent experiences will be interpreted and understood. Three implications of the study are discussed - for theories of immigrants' integration, for immigration policies, and for data-generation practices.

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