Dissertation Abstracts

A Critical Examination of Immigrant Integration: Experiences of Immigrants from Turkey to Canada

Author: Guliz Akkaymak, glzakkaymak@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Western University, Canada
Supervisor: Wolfgang Lehmann
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: integration , Turkish immigrants , Bourdieu , Canada
Areas of Research: Migration , Work , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


This doctoral dissertation critically explores the social, economic, and workplace integration experiences of immigrants from Turkey to Toronto and London, Ontario, Canada, who comprise an understudied immigrant group. Drawing upon semi-structured in-depth interview data with Turkish immigrants who arrived in Canada with different levels of education and under different entry categories (e.g., permanent residents under economic categories and asylum seekers) and have been employed in different segments of the Canadian labour market, I examine a) their network development processes, and the nature of these networks; b) challenges that they have faced in the Canadian labour market, and the strategies they have developed to mitigate these challenges; and c) the ways in which they perceive, experience, and interpret their workplace experiences. In so doing, I aim to address the ways in which social inequalities existing among Turkish immigrants in particular and in Canadian society in general shape the integration experiences. My research shows that the binary conceptualization of networks as ‘bonding (ethnic) social capital’ and ‘bridging social capital’ prevents researchers from understanding the complex nature of network development in the host country. First, by applying Bourdieu’s field theory as an analytical framework, I contend that factors other than ethnicity and/or national origin such as unequal distribution of capital and class and racial habitus need to be considered when analyzing immigrants’ network development experiences. Second, the challenges immigrants face in job search and strategies they employ in response to these challenges vary by entry category, education level, socio-economic background, and the segment of the labour market in which they are located. As such, understanding these different experiences requires simultaneously examining individual level and structural factors. Finally, I show that workplaces in Canada are still structured along racialized/ethnic lines and shaped profoundly by workers’ immigration status. I argue that increasing ethno-racial diversity at Canadian workplaces has not yet transformed the requirement for conformity to Anglo-Canadian ways of doing and interpreting things, and thus immigrants experience assimilation in their workplaces. Overall, the major overarching argument of the dissertation is that the ways in which immigrants experience integration in the host country are dependent on the intersection between their entry category, socio-economic background, habitus, and forms of capital, as well as the segment of the labour market.