Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

A Critical Analysis of the Use of Intersectionality Theory to Understand the Settlement and Integration Needs of Skilled Immigrants to Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

A Critical Analysis of the Use of Intersectionality Theory to Understand the Settlement and Integration Needs of Skilled Immigrants to Canada

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Canada is a nation built on successive waves of immigration. Canadian immigration policy has always viewed immigrants as key to nation building and the country's economic vitality. To this end, Canada has established clear goals to increase the influx of skilled immigrants (Sidney 2014; Walker 2008). For instance, between 2002 and 2014, Canada took 983,887 skilled immigrants under the Federal Skilled Worker Program and in 2016,59,999 skilled workers were accepted under this program (CIC 2015; Government of Canada 2017). In recent years, Canada has experienced a massive influx of highly-educated immigrants (Gauthier 2016). More than half of recent immigrants who landed in the five years prior to the 2016 Census had at least one university degree and 16.7% had master's or doctorate degrees. This percentage is more than two times higher than that of the Canadian-born population (Statistics Canada 2017). However, despite high education and skill levels, recent immigrants experience many obstacles to effective socioeconomic integration in the mainstream society (Reitz 2007). Perhaps, this is because there are complex factors behind the obstacles to successful settlement and integration of skilled immigrants (George and Chaze 2009). To remove or mitigate the obstacles, government agencies, immigrant serving organizations, funders, and advocacy groups promote social services and support that are more responsive to the specific needs of immigrant communities (Sakamoto, Chin, and Young 2010). In this investigation, we examine how intersec-tionality can be used to understand the settlement and integration needs of skilled immigrants in Canada. Based on a review of selected academic literature on inter-sectionality framework, we offer insights into how intersectionality theory can be applied in immigration research in order to better understand the experiences of skilled immigrants and to identify their needs in the context of their settlement and integration in Canada.

OVERVIEW OF INTERSECTIONALITY

Intersectionality is an analytical approach to exploring gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and social class, as complex, intertwined, and mutually supplementary categories of oppression and social structures (Davis 2008; de los Reyes and Mulinai 2005). It is treated as a "systematic approach to understanding human life and behaviour that is rooted in the experiences and struggles of marginalized people" (Dill and Zambrana 2009, 4). Initially, intersectionality gained popularity in feminist research as a central way to understand how women are positioned within our systems of oppression, for example, those of class and race (Davis 2008). However, intersectionality is increas-ingly being applied to study social phenomena across a variety of disciplines (Berg 2010; Hankivsky and Cormier 2011; Mattsson 2014). Even though researchers agree that intersectionality provides a conceptual tool for theorizing identity and oppression (Mattsson 2014; Nash 2008), the perspective of intersectionality is used inconsistently. For instance, it has been described as a theory, a method, a perspective, a paradigm, a concept, a framework, or a lens (Carbin et al. 2013; Hulko 2009). The concept of intersectionality has been used to explicate multiple identities; interlocking systemic inequalities due to social structures; as well as various social, historical, and cultural discourses (Davis 2008; de los Reyes and Mulinari 2005; McCall 2005). Though intersectionality is still a developing field, much of the scholarly literature concerns the use of intersectionality theory to understand social differences (Campbell 2016). In reviewing the concept of intersectionality, scholars like Davis (2008), Hancock (2007), McCall (2005) and Prins (2006) have highlighted the theoretical needs that led to the emergence of intersectionality and the variations in its understanding and application (Choo and Ferree 2010).

The concept of intersectionality emerged as one of several responses to the social justice struggles of the twentieth century to claim a democratic and egalitarian society (Chun, Lipsitz, and Shin 2013). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.