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|Workplace (In)Equality: Making Critical Sense of Hong Kong Chinese Immigrant Experiences in the Canadian Workplace
|Hilde, Rosalie Kit Sheung
|Mills, Albert J. (Saint Mary's University)
Devine, Kay (Faculty of Business, Athabasca University)
|Simmons, Tony (Centre for Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Athabasca University)
Dye, Kelly (Acadia University)
Eriksson, Päivi (University of Eastern Finland)
|Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
|Faculty of Business
Hong Kong Chinese
|This thesis reports on an exploratory study of how professional immigrants from Hong Kong to Canada make sense of their immigration experiences and what this can tell us about why a substantial number leave in their first year in Canada. In particular, I focus on how Hong Kong Chinese immigrants make sense of workplace opportunities. The study involves in-depth interviews with 19 informants from the Hong Kong Chinese community in Canada. The study was framed by a critical sensemaking approach and Foucauldian discursive analysis in which the local and formative contexts of sensemaking are analyzed.
An analysis of the interviews demonstrates that immigrants’ identities are grounded by contextual sensemaking elements. Data show that informants have accepted unchallenged assumptions: (1) that the government is providing help for them to ‘get in’ the workplace; and (2) that the ethnic service organizations are offering positive guidance to their workplace opportunities. At the organizational level, a master discourse emphasizing integration has mediated immigrants’ struggles. Within these frustrations, many have internalized a hidden discourse of inadequate or deficient selves and adopted a sacrificial position in order to maintain a positive sense of identity. There is no question that racism exists on systemic and personal levels. However, immigrants are unaware of the ways their assumptions may be informed by racism; hence they might accept unequal practices as “normal.” Although contextual elements are powerful, some immigrants have developed strategies at the micro-level to resist.
I contend that a critical sensemaking approach allows greater insights into immigration processes than realist surveys and interviews, which tend to impose a pre-packaged sense of the immigrant experience. Through critical sensemaking, immigrants’ own sense (understanding) of process is given voice; this encourages them to rethink the current role of ethnic service organizations in the immigration system. This thesis ends with a conclusion emphasizing my contributions and the value of a critical sensemaking framework in studying complex issues among broader societal discourses.
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