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Immigrant Workers and Meanings of Work

Communicating Life and Career Transitions

Edited By Suchitra Shenoy-Packer and Elena Gabor

This first-of-its-kind book uniquely captures the meanings of work expressed by immigrants. Their stories – from work histories to life transitions and professional journeys – are conscientiously and rigorously mapped by the academic insights of communication scholars, many of whom are immigrants themselves.
Immigrant workers’ narratives of work and its nuances in an adopted country offer many hitherto muted, invisible, and/or purposely silenced perspectives. A variety of new and familiar terms – concepts such as career inheritance, aphorisms, cultural adaptation, acculturation, and cultural distance – and culture-specific terms such as ganas and consejos are discussed alongside the inherent struggles of identity construction across borders.
While the contributors represent diversity in co-cultural affiliations, national origin, and immigration experiences encountered both personally and professionally, the stories of immigrants represent an even larger number of countries and cultures.
This volume compels the academic community to acknowledge immigrants as workers whose voices matter and whose sense and processes of meaning-making is nuanced, complex, and multi-dimensional. Immigrant workers’ voices can contribute significantly to the rich growth of research in organizational communication, meanings of work, career studies, cross-cultural management, psychology of work, and work and society.

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Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Suchitra Shenoy-Packer and Elena Gabor Chapter One: International Migration and the Meanings of Work: A Cross-Cultural Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 K . Peter Kuchinke Chapter Two: Experiencing Cultural Contact at Work: An Exploration of Immigrants’ Perceptions of Work in Finland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Hannele Välipakka, Cheng Zeng, Malgorzata Lahti and Stephen Croucher Chapter Three: Subtle Meaning Evolutions in the Meaning of Work for a Lebanese American Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Dini M . Homsey and Ryan S . Bisel Chapter Four: Immigrants’ Negotiations of Career Inheritance: A (Dis)placement Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Rahul Mitra Chapter Five: The Inheritance My Daddy Gave Me: A Glimpse into Mexican Immigrants’ Conceptualizations of Meaningful Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Yvonne J . Montoya viii | table of contents Chapter Six: The Labor of Identity Development: Work Lessons from Immigrant Parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Flor Leos Madero Chapter Seven: Discontinuities and Dislocations: Immigrant Meanings of Work during Ambivalent Work–Life “Choices” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Suchitra Shenoy-Packer Chapter Eight: Immigrant Women Negotiating Shifting Meanings of Work and Confronting Micro-aggressions with/in the Ivory Tower . . . . . . . . . . 99 Yea-Wen Chen and Brandi Lawless Chapter Nine: Meanings of Work and Emotions of Immigrant Women Engineers in the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Elena Gabor Chapter Ten: In Search of My Niche: International Teaching Assistants’ Negotiation with Meanings of Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 Somava Pande and Pamela J . Bettis Chapter Eleven: From Longing to Work to Loving Retirement: Changing Meanings of Work of a Latvian American in Sweden . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 Stacey M . B . Wieland and Bryleigh Loughlin Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

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