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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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Introduction (Suchitra Shenoy-Packer and Elena Gabor)


The past 50 years have seen an increase in the numbers of migrants, the speed of travel, and an intensification of humanitarian issues arising from migration. At the time of writing this introduction, the news agencies are alerting the world about thousands of migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boats, many suffering from abuse by handlers, heat exhaustion, and hunger while on their path to desired lands. According to The Guardian, more than 3,000 people migrating from Eritrea, Somalia, Palestine, Syria, and Libya died in 2014 off the coast of Libya because their boats capsized (The Guardian, 2015). More recently, the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from Syria has been widely reported. Despite previous European Union (EU) agreements, not all EU mem- bers have been equally open to receiving and assisting immigrants fleeing from war zones, dysfunctional or failed states, and rampant human rights abuses. For example, since the Syrian civil war started in 2011, around 3,000,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Jordan and Turkey, and more than 120,000 Syrians have arrived in Europe, according to the UN refugee agency. Immigration is not a recent phenomenon, and stories of immigrants invol- untarily forced to leave native homelands for the aforementioned reasons only to face abuse and exploitation in their new homes do receive intermittent news coverage. However, news agencies and broadcast stations find it less interesting to showcase stories of those voluntarily immigrating for employment reasons. The immigrants in...

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