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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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Chapter Two: Experiencing Cultural Contact at Work: An Exploration of Immigrants’ Perceptions of Work in Finland (Hannele Välipakka, Cheng Zeng, Malgorzata Lahti and Stephen Croucher)

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c h a p t e r t w o Cultural adaptation is a paramount concern for researchers, policymakers, orga- nizations, communities, nations, and for individuals in the process of adapting. Scholars have produced a rich body of research on how this process takes place, identified positive and negative effects of the process, and offered alternatives to current adaptation models (e.g., Berry, 1990; Chun & Choi, 2003; Croucher, 2008, 2011; Kim, 2001; Kraidy, 2005; Ye, 2006). Researchers examining the underpinnings of cultural adaptation have over- whelmingly adopted Kim’s (2001) theory of cultural adaptation. Kim defined cul- tural adaptation as “the dynamic process by which individuals, upon relocating to new, unfamiliar, or changed cultural environments, establish (or reestablish) and maintain relatively stable, reciprocal, and functional relationships with those environments” (p. 31). This process is a multistep process, involving the encul- turation, deculturation, and acculturation of newcomers to a culture, where the ultimate goal is complete assimilation into the new culture (Kim). However, com- plete assimilation is theoretically impossible, as newcomers to a culture may not be accepted by the dominant culture, may not be able to completely assimilate, and/or may not want to completely assimilate (Croucher, 2008, Gordon, 1964; Kim, 2001; Smolicz & Secombe, 2003). Instead of an end goal of complete assimilation, numerous intercultural/ cross-cultural theorists have posited other ideas to better explain and/or predict the newcomer experience. Kraidy (2005), in his discussion of hybridity, explained Experiencing Cultural Contact at Work: An Exploration of Immigrants’ Perceptions of Work in Finland hannele v...

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