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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 Five: The Inheritance My Daddy Gave Me: A Glimpse into Mexican Immigrants’ Conceptualizations of Meaningful Work (Yvonne J. Montoya)


c h a p t e r f i v e The Hispanic population in the U.S. is on the rise and, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, has accounted for 56% of the U.S. population increase, representing nearly 1 million more people than expected, based on previous projections (Passel & Cohn, 2011). Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2060 the Hispanic pop- ulation will more than double and that nearly one third of all U.S. residents will be Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). These numbers are significant to the U.S. economy because trends suggest a large percentage of working age people will be Hispanic. Additionally, research suggests that the United States’ global competitive- ness will largely depend on the success of this demographic group (Maldonado & Farmer, 2006). Mexican immigrants fall under the category of the “U.S. Hispanic population,” and Mexicans comprise the largest majority of Hispanics in the U.S. Based on data from U.S. census reports, since 1980, Mexican immigrants have been the largest national-origin group in the United States (Zong & Batalova, 2014). Monger and Yankay (2014) noted that as of 2013, Mexicans represent the greatest number of lawful permanent residents to the U.S. In addition to legal immigration, unauthorized1 immigration to the U.S. from Mexico supersedes immigration from any other country and has held that distinction for years (Bean, Brown, Leach, Bachmeier, & Van Hook, 2013). Estimates suggest that 58% of unauthorized immigrants are of Mexican origin (Passel & Cohn, 2011). Mexican migration to the U.S. occurs for a...

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