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Mapping the social participation of South Asians and mainstream/dominant Canadians: A comparative study

TitleMapping the social participation of South Asians and mainstream/dominant Canadians: A comparative study
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsRanu, K.
UniversityUniversity of Calgary
CityCalgary, AB
Keywordssocial capital, south asians

This research studies how actively South Asian immigrants in Canada are engaged in the social participation process and their underlying motivations. Social participation of South Asians in Canada is compared with Canadians of British lineage and East Indians in their homeland (India), and reasons behind any differences in levels of social participation are examined. In this endeavour, the circular relationship between social participation and social capital is investigated and the formulations of the concepts are problematized and critiqued. To ensure that concepts and indicators are contextually examined instead of being applied universally, both quantitative (inferential statistics) and qualitative methods (interviewing, narrative analysis, and critical discourse analysis of interview transcripts) are used in the research. General Social Survey, cycle 17, is used in the quantitative analysis. Results from qualitative interviews demonstrate that the initial settlement process of South Asian immigrants deeply impacts their social participation process in Canada. The settlement process is found to be influenced by gender, household income, educational background, continuing perspectives of life as developed in their country of origin, general cognitive discourse on the western way of life, and the exercise of an active choice of living in co-ethnic neighbourhoods. Receptivity by social groups and networks and perception of immigrants by mainstream/dominant ethnic groups is also seen to influence a sense of belonging, development of the "Canadian identity", subsequent settlement, and social participation processes in Canada. Quantitative analysis indicates that ethnic background, interaction in networks of similar income, same sex networks, and networks speaking the same mother tongue negatively impact social participation processes, while sense of social obligation and helping others positively influence social participation. For Indians in their homeland, traditional cultural practices and collective and normative expectations influence the motivations behind social participation, but signs of change such as more individualistic lifestyle choices were also apparent.

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