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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec


Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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Moving into the World of Work. Youth Today and a Century Ago (Sherry Olson)


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Moving into the World of Work

Youth Today and a Century Ago1

Sherry OLSON

Work and family are the two poles of a time-space in which each of us functions. Between the ages of 15 and 30, most of us enter the world of work, and most of us move out of the family in which we were born and into a new family. It may be by choice, by whim, under pressure, or by negotiation. For some, the transition entails a suite of experiments and a suite of moves, or, at greater risk, a long-distance move with no option to return. It may be prepared by years of schooling: institutionally programmed “work” that regiments children, sorts and channels them in ways that will ensure lifetime differentials of challenge and reward.

If we look back a century, Montrealers aged 15-30 faced similar challenges. Their fast-growing metropolis (350 000 people in 1901) had a Catholic majority and a Protestant minority (one quarter), a French-speaking majority and an English-speaking minority (one third). By 1901 a greater diversity was emerging, already 4% Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Syrian, etc; by 1911 the figure was 11%. The urban powerhouse was attracting greater numbers from the surrounding villages of Quebec, from rural parts of Ontario and Newfoundland, and from England, most of them under 30, more women than men. The 15-30 age population constituted half the wage labour force, and 40% of them were newcomers...

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