Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Immigration, Diversity and Ethnic Relations in Quebec

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Immigration, Diversity and Ethnic Relations in Quebec

Article excerpt


Over the last thirty years, Quebec, through immigration, has experienced the emergence of an increasing presence of ethnic minorities. This paper has two objectives. The first is to document historically the evolution of ethnic diversity brought about by a century of immigration. The second part attempts to answer the question, "How has ethnic diversity produced a "third force," thus provoking a redefinition of "Who is Quebecois." Indeed, Quebec ethnic-based nationalism is becoming questionable in the face of increasing pluralism. Ethnic diversity is propelling both Quebec society and its polity toward a more civic-based nationalism. (1)

Depuis les annees soixante-dix surtout, on assiste au Quebec a l'emergence d'une forte presence de minorites ethniques. Dans un premier temps, le present texte documente de facon statistique la diversite ethnique faconnee par un siecle d'immigration. Ensuite, le texte tente de repondre a la question: comment de la diversite ethnique issue de l'immigration a emerge une << troisieme force >> qui a force la redefinition du << nous >> quebecois. En effet, depuis une bonne dizaine d'annees, la nationalisme quebecois base sur une definition a fort contenu ethnique se trouve en dissonance par rapport au pluralisme croissant de la societe quebecoise. La diversite ethnique provoque des debats sur la necessite d'un nationalisme davantage civique.


The late twentieth century witnessed a sometimes difficult reconsideration of the very principles underlying national identities on the part of most nation-states, including the least industrialized countries (Dieckhoff 2000). By the same token, the field of ethnic relations has been deeply penetrated by all-encompassing interpretations arising out of the globalization paradigm. This paradigm suggests three kinds of explanation, each shedding specific, though not necessarily contradictory, light on the effects of globalization on ethnic relations in contemporary societies.

The first dimension focusses on the economic aspects of globalization, and describes current migratory trends as meeting "global capitalism's" needs for an ever more flexible and qualified labour force that circulates in an increasingly globalized labour market (Simmons 1995). The effects of the new international division of labour that is emerging from the economic globalization process are an increase in socio-economic inequalities and the marginalization of certain regions and categories of people within the world-system (Helly 1996). For some authors, far from eliminating discrimination, this process is contributing to the ethnicization of capitalism on a global scale. Certain groups, including new immigrants and illegals, find themselves on the margins of the economic system and unprotected by anti-discrimination policies (Appelbaum 1999; Dawson 1999). The notion of citizenship, from which the categories of the most vulnerable people are excluded (migrants in particular), is being reconsidered owing to the stratification of the labour market on a global scale.

In addition to this highly economistic vision of globalization, there is a more socio-cultural approach that focusses on the dissemination of a post-modern global culture and its impact on the production of new identities that compete with existing national identities (Salee 1996). Here, the effects of globalization occur through the diffusion of post-modern identities, the universalism of which undermines the particularist ideologies encompassing national identities (Arnason 1990; Featherstone 1990; Robertson 1992). In this context, "liberal" societies and the nation-states that govern them are obliged to find new solutions among various citizenship models ranging from ethnic nationalism to civic nationalism (Seymour 2002).

The third and last dimension, and the one that informs the present text, focusses on the pluriethnicity that emerges from a more diversified immigration, characteristic of liberal societies in particular (Aleinikoff, Alexander and Klusmeyer 2001; Baubock, Rainer and Rundell 1998). …

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