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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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We are grateful to several people who encouraged our project idea, provided feedback, and played cheerleaders throughout the process. Our thanks go to our parents, spouses, and children, who patiently and unconditionally supported our work; our editors at Peter Lang, who guided us to fulfilling our vision for this project; and the organizers of the National Communication Association’s Organizational Communication Division’s preconference on Meanings of Work (2008)—particularly Kristen Broadfoot, Majia Nadesan, and Ted Zorn—for further legitimizing and providing the impetus for studying meanings of work as its own area of research in our discipline.

Thank you to Ted Zorn and the Organizational Communication Division of the International Communication Association for sponsoring our ICA 2014 preconference— Redefining and Renegotiating the Meanings of Work, Success, Happiness, and Good Life—and to all the attendees of that preconference for continuing the conversation on meanings of work and for highlighting its significance in our scholarship as organizational and intercultural communication scholars. Finally, thank you to Stacey Wieland, Patrice M. Buzzanell, and Alberto Gonzalez.

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