Multiculturalism in an everyday perspective: Immigration and settlement services in Vancouver, Canada
Master's thesis submitted at Department of Social Anthropology, spring 2019.
By: Sigrid Lofthus Fidjeland
Supervisor: Professor Tone Bringa
This thesis examines social relationships and everyday encounters between immigrants and focus particularly on representatives of organizations working to help immigrants integrate and settle in a multicultural society. Canada’s support of multicultural policies and “visible minorities” is grounded in their constitution, and Canada is known as a country with liberal immigration policies. This thesis explores what multiculturalism means for people who use the word as part of their every day vocabulary, and if living in a multicultural society influence immigrants’ sociality in relation to three important topics; transnational ties, citizenship and community participation and their experiences of discrimination and racism. My interlocutors are mainly immigrants who work in what they refer to as the “settlement industry”, meaning that they work in non-profit organizations that offer settlement services to immigrants to help them settle in and adapt to Canadian society. For my interlocutors, multiculturalism was a concept used to describe their environment, but it was also used to describe a corner-stone of their society and a way of living.
In this thesis I explore perceptions of multiculturalism that are based on misunderstandings and romanticized utopian ideas of what multiculturalism is and what it was intended to do. I try to deconstruct these romanticized perceptions by exploring the multicultural society as seen from my interlocutors’ point of view, the average working immigrant, rather than the state, and I discuss multiculturalism as the mundane household-concept it was to them.