The Chutes and Ladders of Migrant Incorporation: Legal Status Meets Canadian Newcomer Settlement Landscape

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Luin GOLDRING, York University, Canada
Patricia LANDOLT, University of Toronto, Scarborough, Canada
Migrant incorporation is a long-term, multi-level and complex process.  Researchers concur on the importance of attributes, resources and processes that operate at the level of individual migrants, their households and networks, and on the significance of state and local immigration and employment policies, regulations and enforcement practice.  A third set of institutional actors, settlement service providers, is increasingly recognized as shaping migrant incorporation.  With this point of departure, we examine the early settlement of 300 Caribbean and Latin American newcomers in Toronto.  We use our “chutes and ladders” framework (2013) to analyze systemic contingencies in patterns of incorporation that are contoured by legal status trajectories and variation in how clusters of newcomers interact with and are “read” by the settlement landscape. We argue that differences in the history of migration, social networks, racialization and predominant legal status at entry set the stage for organizing distinct trajectories and patterns of incorporation by first assembling distinct clusters of settlers or settler subjects.  Legal status and other dimensions of social location, networks, migrant agency and social learning organize interaction with other people, institutions and organizations in ways that are patterned but also involve contingency.  This indeterminacy stems in part from how newcomers interact with institutions and others.  These encounters (or lack thereof) are shaped by formal rules of access, and by substantive practices, chance, notions of deservingness, and discretion. Throughout, newcomers seek information and learn. However, information quality varies, as do resources and social location, and the way migrants fit in to the landscape of settlement and other services, all of which shapes their capacity to translate knowledge into practice.  These processes assemble the chutes and ladders of settlement.