Neither Here Nor There: Transnational Identity Of French Immigrants Employed In Israeli-French Companies

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:40 AM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Karin AMIT , The Institute for Immigration and Social Integration and the Department of Business Administration, Ruppin Academic Center, Emek Hefer, Israel
Shirly BAR-LEV , Ruppin Academic Center, Israel, Emek Hefer, Israel
Recent waves of French immigration to Israel exhibit the unique characteristics of a transnational movement (Bowen, 2004). This movement is distinct in the immigrants’ strong and continued affinity to their country of origin, despite efforts to integrate into the host country’s job market, and form cultural communities. This pattern of immigration invites scholars to rethink concepts such as: integration, assimilation and national identity, and perhaps even replace them with the terms “global nomads”, cosmopolitan, and “children of the third culture”. These terms seem to better describe the existential limbo these immigrants experience (and even foster deliberately) (Bell-Villada, Sichel, 2011). We thus feel that a better understanding of life on the borderline between cultures is warranted.

In our case, the hybrid identity cultivated by the French immigrants is maintained and even fortified by their preference for working in French speaking organizations. The research reported here examined the formation of trans-national identity among French immigrants employed in companies providing services in French to French audience. Many of whom are employed in telephonic call- centers, where vast aspects of the work is technologically mediated, and workers are employed under various forms of non-standard employment which deprive them of job security. The present study asks how this employment pattern, and work environment impact the manner in which immigrants' relate to the Israeli culture, construct their identity, form communities of belonging, and integrate into the Israeli society.

Based on 40 in-depth interviews with French immigrants working at various French oriented companies we show how the sense of temporariness and instability characterizing their field of work contributed to their construction of a hybrid ethnic identity. The francophone identity provided an important social and cultural resource that many immigrants felt they should preserve.