Using Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice to Investigate the Experience of International Ontario College Graduates Seeking Career Employment and Permanent Residency in Canada

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Oleg LEGUSOV, University of Toronto, Canada
With an aging population and a looming shortage of skilled labor, the Canadian government has been trying to attract more skilled immigrants to the country. International students represent a potential source of such immigrants. For many international graduates, however, the path to Canadian citizenship involves securing employment in Canada. But, even with educational credentials, many of them have difficulty obtaining jobs that suit their qualifications and can lead to permanent-resident status. This qualitative study uses an interpretivist paradigm to explore the experience of Ontario college graduates from three Russian-speaking former Soviet republics: Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia as they attempt to transition from school to work and integrate into Canadian society. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice is used as the theoretical framework to analyze participants’ work and integration experience. The study examines the relationship between structure and agency, as well as the interplay of three elements of Bourdieu’s theory field, capital, and habitus. According to Bourdieu’s theory, the job market can be considered a field that job seekers try to enter and establish themselves in. To do so, they need to use their cultural and social capital as well as to enhance it. They enter a complex game, which they may be ill equipped to navigate effectively because they are new to Canada. Thus the main focus of this research is to determine the degree to which international college graduates succeed in using their capital to learn the rules of the game.