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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/27608

Title: Immigration, Literacy, and Mobility: A Critical Ethnographic Study of Well-educated Chinese Immigrants’ Trajectories in Canada
Authors: Wang, Lurong
Advisor: Heller, Monica
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: immigration, Chinese immigrant professionals in Canada, trajectories
the trans-contextual phenomenon of literacy, literacy as social practice, literacy as strategy
settlement, adaptation, and socialization
socioeconomic mobility and upward mobility
situated learning and literacy practice
globalization, immigration, and commodification
literacy, multiculturalism, multilingualism
multimodal uses of language and literacy
social domains and discursive discourses
language and literacy in the workplace
English proficiency and divisions of family obligations
LINC/ESL programs, post-secondary education, community colleges
critical ethnography, ethnography of literacy
discourse analysis
immigration policies, literacy policies, China's English education policies
language ideologies, the web of ideological practices
consequences of literacy
literacy and social political participation
literacy, positioning, power relations
literacy, community of practice, social relationships
social reproduction and categorization
New Economy Orders, globalized new economy
language and literacy in the job market
language problem and deficit assumptions on immigrants' language and literacy
linguistic and racial discriminiation, forms of discrimiation
deskilling, symbolic domination, social economic stereotype
immigrants' language and literacy proficiency levels, economic performance, economic returns
immigrants' social and linguistic identity (re)construction
legitimate access to rescources, recognition, and participation
dilemma, marginalization, contradiction, tension
reading and writing
literacy and orality
social network, employment opportunities, job advancement
literacy artifacts
home, school, job market, workplace
field, forms of capital, individual and institutional habitus
language learning, instructions, classroom activities, curriculum
gatekeeping process, social selection
language proficiency, educational credentials, socioeconomic mobility
Issue Date: 13-Jun-2011
Abstract: This dissertation interrogates the deficit assumptions about English proficiency of skilled immigrants who were recruited by Canadian governments between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Through the lens of literacy as social practice, the eighteen-month ethnographic qualitative research explores the sequential experiences of settlement and economic integration of seven well-educated Chinese immigrant professionals. The analytical framework is built on sociocultural approaches to literacy and learning, as well as the theories of discourses and language reproduction. Using multiple data sources (observations, conversational interviews, journal and diary entries, photographs, documents, and artifacts collected in everyday lives), I document many different ways that well-educated Chinese immigrants take advantage of their language and literacy skills in English across several social domains of home, school, job market, and workplace. Examining the trans-contextual patterning of the participants’ language and literacy activities reveals that immigrant professionals use literacy as assistance in seeking, negotiating, and taking hold of resources and opportunities within certain social settings. However, my data show that their language and literacy engagements might not always generate positive consequences for social networks, job opportunities, and upward economic mobility. Close analyses of processes and outcomes of the participants’ engagements across these discursive discourses make it very clear that the monolithic assumptions of the dominant language shape and reinforce structural barriers by constraining their social participation, decision making, and learning practice, and thereby make literacy’s consequences unpredictable. The deficit model of language proficiency serves the grounds for linguistic stereotypes and economic marginalization, which produces profoundly consequential effects on immigrants’ pathways as they strive for having access to resources and opportunities in the new society. My analyses illuminate the ways that language and literacy create the complex web of discursive spaces wherein institutional agendas and personal desires are intertwined and collide in complex ways that constitute conditions and processes of social and economic mobility of immigrant populations. Based on these analyses, I argue that immigrants’ successful integration into a host country is not about the mastery of the technical skills in the dominant language. Rather, it is largely about the recognition and acceptance of the value of their language use and literacy practice as they attempt to partake in the globalized new economy.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/27608
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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