Transnationalism, Active Citizenship, and Belonging in Canada

By Wong, Lloyd L. | International Journal, December 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Transnationalism, Active Citizenship, and Belonging in Canada

Wong, Lloyd L., International Journal

Transnational identities, practices, and institutions are not really new and have likely existed in some form over the past few hundred years and perhaps back to the peace of Westphalia in the mid iooos. While the technological transformations in previous centuries facilitated transnationalism, such as trans-oceanic steamships and the telegraph, it has only been recently that the cost of bridging long geographic distances has been cut dramatically.1 As a result what is new is the emergence of transnationalism on a mass scale. Technological conditions for earlier immigrants did not make transnational practices rapid or easy but now they have and this has only been a relatively recent and new phenomenon.2 This has had an affect on the types of communities with which individuals and institutions identify and in which they participate. Economic globalization over the past several decades has led to the rise of a global economy with a plethora of transnational and multinational corporations. Following this economic globalization has been a cultural globalization that includes an ethnoscape with an increasing multitude of diasporic and transnational communities. As many people in these communities engage in transnational identities and practices, questions arise as to their rights and responsibilities of citizenship within a particular nation. Further, with criticisms of multiculturalism becoming more prevalent in recent years-particularly in the post 9/11 era-including the Madrid train bombings of 2004, the London bombings of 2005, and the Canadian suspected terrorism case of 2006-the "darker" side of transnational practices has been prominent in public discourse. This discourse is based on the perception that multiculturalism is not working and, along with transnational practices, leads to fragmentation and segregation rather than the integration of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups. The argument is made that multiculturalism and transnationalism make social cohesion in Canadian society difficult if not impossible to achieve. More specifically, those engaged in transnational identities and practices are viewed as practicing a "thin" citizenship with limited active citizenship engagement within Canada and minimal shared values, cultural identity, and sense of belonging to Canada. This article begins with a discussion of how transnationalism and active citizenship are conceptualized. It then examines how these two processes are allegedly divergent and contradictory. This is followed by an empirical investigation of these allegations comprising three research questions. I outline the methodology used to answer the questions, how the key variables of transnationalism are measured, and present the findings.


While the introduction and popularization of the term transnationalism emerged in the social sciences over the past decade and a half, sociologist Anthony Richmond coined a somewhat similar term-transilience-in 1969- Transilience referred to the exchanges of skilled and highly qualified migrants between advanced industrial societies. The migrants themselves were referred to as transilients; he predicted they would become numerically more important in the future. These terms were used in his writings up to the mid-1990s and by that time Richmond was using the term more broadly to apply to a wide range of movers whose permanence in one locale was neither expected nor necessary.3 Transilients do not necessarily assimilate, acculturate, or integrate fully into the receiving society but rather maintain close ties with family and friends; are aware of changing economic, political, and social conditions in their former country and elsewhere; and have high rates of remigration and return. As such, the concept of transilience can be considered the forerunner to contemporary notions of transnationalism.

With the publication of Nina Glick Schiller's, Linda Basch's, and Christina Blanc-Szantoris books Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration in 1992, and Nations Unbound in 1994, the transnationalism paradigm emerged as a "new" perspective to characterize processes of immigrant settlement, adaptation, and integration, particularly in Britain and the United States. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Transnationalism, Active Citizenship, and Belonging in Canada


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    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.