multiculturalism, capability and human development: the canadian immigration experience

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Multiculturalism, Capability and Human Development: the Canadian Immigration Experience. Susan Hodgett Ph.D. School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies and the Social and Policy Research Institute (University of Ulster) and David A. Clark Ph.D. Global Poverty Research Group - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Multiculturalism, Capability and Human Development: the Canadian Immigration Experience.

    Susan Hodgett Ph.D. School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies and the Social and Policy Research Institute (University of Ulster)andDavid A. Clark Ph.D. Global Poverty Research Group (Universities of Manchester and Oxford)

  • Contribution over two papers To develop a framework and methodology for investigating human values and social integration in multicultural contexts. To build on the theoretical foundations of Sens capability approach by drawing on insights from the livelihoods approach and chronic poverty literature. To identify human values in a multicultural setting & the instrumental /constitutive freedoms ordinary people have reason to value.To engage with Sens work on culture and identity.To use the capability approach to illuminate aspects of multicultural policy in a First World country.This research is supported by Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada and The Foundation for Canadian Studies in the UK.

  • The MeansTo augment the capability approach and human development paradigm with insights from the livelihoods approach.To analyse the dynamics of poverty. To investigate human values, the role of culture and identity and how these relate to, and interact with, other factors in shaping livelihoods and well-being among different groups of migrants in Canada. To draw upon the values and experiences of immigrants and explore whether Canadian multicultural policy has enabled migrants to achieve the kind of life they have reason to value.

  • CapabilitiesCapability approach (CA) to human well-being and development was pioneered by Nobel winning Economist and Philosopher Amartya Sen. It is concerned with ensuring that different people, cultures and societies can enjoy the capability (or freedom) to lead the kind of life that they have reason to value.

    While income and material things might be necessary to facilitate a good form of life, the CA recognises that it does not automatically follow that there will be a strong link between income and access to resources and the ability to achieve valuable capabilities.

    The CA places people at the centre of the development process People are regarded as the primary ends as well as the principal means of development. In particular the CA recognises that well-being is multidimensional and embraces the full range of doings and beings that contribute to a good form of life.

  • Capabilities and ImpactCA has spawned a literature in development, social science and moral philosophy.Fits with multiculturalism for it sees people (not production) as the primary agent of economic and social analysis. Judges success as what people can or cannot do (Sen, 1983: 754).It is a flexible approach and can be applied in different ways. For example, it can be used alongside participatory tools and methods to empower marginalised groups and cultures and generate bottom up views of poverty and well-being.

  • Capabilities and CultureSen has been working in the area of culture and identity.He considers importantPublic reasoningDeliberative DemocracyIn forming social valuesInvolving ethics borrowed from cultural values- which beg further study.That all values should contribute positively to social and economic progress.He promotes the importance of democracy and of reason as well as toleration or reason before identity.

  • LivelihoodsThe livelihoods approach focuses on people as the primary agents for tackling poverty. Views people as vulnerable and draws attention to the resources (assets) they can mobilise, the risk factors that influence their ability to manage resources and the institutional and policy context that either helps or hinders their capacity to make a living. The chronic poverty literature investigates the factors that (i) trap people in persistent poverty; (ii) allow people to move in and out of poverty over time; or (iii) enables people to escape poverty.

  • The Questionnaire

    Part One Used open-ended questions that asked respondents to identify aspects of life. A good life, anticipated dimensions of life in Canada before arrival, positive and negative aspects of life in Canada, satisfaction with life, needs and goals (both over time).Interviewers were instructed not to suggest possible answers. Part Two Respondents asked questions about more specific aspects of life, such as housing, education, jobs, health, self worth/ respect, trust, friendship/community life and happiness which were pre-defined. Part ThreeCollected background information regarding personal circumstances and living conditions.

  • The Benefits of this Approach

    Allows researchers to avoid influencing initial responses (by asking purely open-ended questions at the start).Picks up on issues respondents may have neglected AND looks for consensus (by requesting an assessment of pre-defined aspects of life). Test for inconsistencies (by comparing the answers to open and pre-defined questions) that might reflect preferences which are ill-informed or have adapted to personal circumstances.

  • Initial Research Goals in CanadaTo identify and explore cultural values, expectations and experience of social integration among different groups of Canadian immigrants.To investigate how cultural values relate to and interact with livelihoods and well-being.To consider the extent to which multicultural policy (and policy in general) has enabled migrants to integrate successfully into Canadian society.To compare and contrast the views of different groups of Canadian immigrants with the perceptions of immigrant needs and policy effectiveness of the establishment and other stakeholders.

  • Research Questions and Methodology in CanadaTwelve qualitative interviews among three groups of migrants. Open-ended questions were designed to explore:Abstract perceptions of human well-being i.e. a good (ideal) form of life.Perceptions of well-being (life) in Canada prior to arrival.Actual perceptions of well-being (life) in Canada.Short/ mediate term goals and objectives (priorities, needs).The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that shape livelihoods and well-being (SWOT analysis).The impact of multicultural policy in particular, and other types of policy in general, on the livelihoods and well-being of Canadian immigrants.

  • FieldworkNot possible to administer a sample survey; instead we relied on a small number of qualitative interviews. Our research was constrained by lack of time and resource. Selection was of specific groups of migrants (e.g. on grounds they had differing cultural backgrounds and arrival dates in Canada). Respondents were found through a process of self-selection facilitated through contact in a local housing co-operative. Three distinct groups were surveyed (Western European, Eastern European and African) in order to generate interesting comparisons.

  • Characteristics of Respondents

  • Analysis of Results- ongoing

    Breakdown results by selection criteria in order to (a) illustrate diversity of multicultural values; and (b) the factors that foster/impede the pursuit of multiculturalism and successful social integration among different groups.Draw out the implications of the fieldwork results for multicultural policy on the one hand and other (non-multicultural) policy on the other.Reference findings to the most recent theories of Amartya Sen on culture and identity, Reason before Identity, Other People and The Argumentative Indian?

  • Factors that foster/impede the pursuit of multiculturalism and successful social integration among different groups.

    Perceptions of life before coming to CanadaActual perceptions of life in CanadaQuestions formulated around human well- beingA set of questions on the positive and negative aspects of life relating to the respondent (his or herself), the community and the country as a whole.

  • Integration and Cohesion?Questions revealed much about the potential for the cultural integration of different ethnic groups, social cohesion and social harmony. The greater the overlap between responses to the three sets of questions (abstract cultural values, perceptions of life before arrival and perceptions of the actual quality of life), the easier it is likely to be to adjust to life in a new country or cultural setting.

  • Values, Expectations and Actual Experience

  • What we can tellThis approach helps identify areas of divergence and convergence in both values and the (actual) quality of life among ethnic groups. It highlights similarities and differences in cultural values and social and economic circumstances It notes problem areas (for example ethnic tensions, social injustice or disadvantage). And notes too opportunities for building bridges between cultural groups.

  • Very Initial Fieldwork Findings..NegativesShared concerns across all groups with systemic problems in jobs /employment including lack of recognition of qualifications/ skills/ experience.Concerns over disparities between migrants and those born in Canada regarding career success/income/self worth.Shared understanding and difficulties in building new social networks.The enormous challenges individuals and families face on deciding to move countries and cultures.

  • Very Initial Fieldwork Findings..PositivesThere are many similarities (as well as differences) in values across cultural groups. For example, the Africans and the Eastern Europeans value peace, democracy and individual autonomy. The Western Europeans and the Africans value education and community life. This shared consensus points the way towards potential opportunities for cross cultural bridge building.

  • Some considerationsThe fi


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