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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 Three: Subtle Meaning Evolutions in the Meaning of Work for a Lebanese American Community (Dini M. Homsey and Ryan S. Bisel)


c h a p t e r t h r e e The Christian Lebanese American (LA) community located in the Plains states is somewhat unique among immigrant populations. The LA immigrant com- munity has enjoyed financial success within a few generations of their migration to the United States. Like other immigrant communities, the LA communi- ty’s initial wave of immigration heralded much financial hardship and struggle (Suleiman, 1999). Though later generations did not share the same financial hardships, they retained the discourses of work passed down to them by pre- vious generations. The first author is a member of the LA community and has catalogued how her community talks about work as a way to understand the immigrant community’s unusually successful experience within its host culture (Homsey, 2013; Sowell, 1994). t h e l e b a n e s e a m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t y Research has been conducted on immigrant identity and the importance of the second generation as the determiner of whether traditions are retained or lost (e.g., Portes, 1996, 1997); however, what remains less understood is the meaning mak- ing of subsequent generations and how that meaning making facilitates or inter- feres with how immigrant traditions are retained or lost. This chapter analyzes talk about work from third-, fourth-, and fifth-generation Lebanese Americans. The Subtle Meaning Evolutions in the Meaning of Work for a Lebanese American Community dini m. homsey and ryan s....

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