Sociology 211

October 13, 2004


Conclusion to multiculturalism


Completed the first section of the course, dealing with general approach; meaning of ethnicity, race, and nation; and have surveyed issues of multiculturalism.  We will return to multiculturalism at the end of the semester, but hopefully the discussions of the meaning, history, problems, and attitudes provide you with a reasonable survey of the issues related to multiculturalism.  Multiculturalism clearly means many different things and is a complex policy and process, but can be distinguished from earlier approaches of forced assimilation and genocide.  The survey of attitudes shows that Canadians are generally supportive of multiculturalism, but support is stronger for some aspects than others – the main area where there is little support is for direct government assistance to specific ethnic groups.  There may also be inadequate recognition of the problems and barriers faced by newcomers and other disadvantaged individuals and groups. 


Migration and ethnic relations.


A.  Introduction

B.  International migration – Isajiw, chapter 3

C.  Immigration to Canada – Isajiw, chapter 4

D.  Ethnic relations – Isajiw, chapter 2

E.  Incorporation of ethnic groups – Isajiw, chapter 5


Following this, we will examine issues of prejudice, stereotyping, racism, and discrimination – Isajiw, chapter 6, Fleras and Kunz, ch. 2-7.


A.  Introduction


In this section of the course, we examine issues related to migration among countries.  This is a large topic, so all details cannot be covered adequately in this course.  We will focus on migration issues related to ethnicity, ethnic relations, and national minorities.  There are several reasons why migration is key to issues of ethnic relations and multiculturalism. 


1.      Ethnic groups created by population movement


If people did not move from one place to another, the issue of ethnicity would not arise.  There could still be contacts among different peoples and cultures, but what we consider as “ethnicity” and “ethnic groups” would not really be an issue.  There would be different peoples and cultures, some of which might clash from time to time, but generally they would coexist in some manner, with each having their location and place.  These might be what Isajiw terms folk, primary ethnic groups, or nations and nationalities. 


It is the movement of people across space that creates national minorities and what Isajiw terms secondary ethnic groups.  The members of a primary ethnic group who move to another region may become a secondary ethnic group.  The members of a population facing immigration may become a national minority. 


Sociologically significant.  Isajiw (p. 63) states that migration occurs when people “move to another place and stay there for a significant period of time or go to another place at signficant intervals of time.”  That is, very temporary movements of individuals such as commuting, some forms of tourism, temporary work (entertainers and sports professionals), international students, or even sojourning (extended vacation in Arizona, young people taking a year to travel around Central or South America) are not usually regarded as migration.  These temporary movements may have an important economic and structural effect on certain areas (vacation cities in southern U. S., entertainment complexes in Orlando or on Mexican beaches), but they do not create the ongoing contact among those of different cultures that is part of ethnic relations. 


Migration occurs when the change of residence has some permanence or continuity, so members of a group have ongoing contact or relations with those of another cultural group.  As Isajiw notes, it is difficult to make a sharp distinction between temporary population movements and migration, but the analytic distinction is relatively clear. 


As Isajiw further notes, it is when there are a considerable number of people involved in the population movement that the migration becomes sociologically significant.  One way of defining this is to consider a population movement as migration when there is a change of residence.  As Isajiw outlines in chapter 3 though, there are several different forms of this.  But the basic notion of a change in residence can be fairly clear – change of address cards, change of driver or health care registration, or passing across a national border as an immigrant or with a work visa.


In official Canadian statistics, a migrant is considered to be one who lives in a different census subdivision five years earlier.  This is related to the five-year period for censuses, but is a typical definition used for statistical purposes.  Key to this is place of residence, and this is usually considered to be the mailing address or place of usual residence.  Usual place of residence is the “dwelling where they live for the largest part of the year.” (Statistics Canada, 2001 Census Dictionary,  See


2.      Basic human right


In the past, and n some areas of the world today, there are forced population movements.  In the case of prisoners or those who have committed a crime, this may be legitimate, but most other forms of forced population movement are regarded as unacceptable and a violation of human rights (apart from children and those judged mentally or physcially incompetent).  Historically, slavery, indentured labour, moving aboriginal people onto reserves, exiling or forcibly moving whole groups, were all acceptable to at least those who organized such population movements.  In addition, in some regions of the world, people were not free to leave the area.  Serfs and peasants were often attached to a particular location and were subjects of a lord or ruler who used their labour to enrich his wealth, so would not permit people to leave the location. 


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, states that “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” and “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Article 6, addresses mobility rights, stating that “every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada” and any permanent resident had the right “to move to and take up residence in any province” and “to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.”  These are subject to the laws and residency requirements of the province and allows for “affirmative action” types of programs. 


However, these rights to mobility do not include the right to enter another country.  In the contemporary era, each country attempts to strictly control its borders and entry into the country.  While there are debates about what the appropriate immigration policy, rights of entry are strictly controlled by each country.


Given that these rights are widely recognized and practiced, this means that migration will continue to occur, perhaps in increasing amounts, so there will continue to be more contact among those of different ethnicity.  At the same time, one of the major reasons for refugees being created is violation of these rights, where people must move because of fear of losing their lives or having other basic rights violated.


3.      Increase in international migration


There has always been international migration – the original movement of the people who became aboriginal peoples, from Asia into the Americas, was an international migration.  And with the developments of industrialization, modernization, and urbanization beginning in the 1600s in Europe, there was an expansion of international migration that reached a peak in the early twentieth century.  We will discuss this further in connection with immigration to Canada.  Throughout much of the mid-twentieth century, there was a decline in international migration.  The great depression of the 1930s, the second world war, and the increased protection of the borders of each country were associated with reduced rates of international migration.  There were still some major population movements in Europe and Asia, with the displacement of people in Europe during the second world war, and migration since 1950 was often considerable.  The independence of India and Pakistan of 1947 also produced large population movements between these two countries.


But it has been in the last fifteen to twenty years that the amounts and rates of migration have increased dramatically again.  According to the United Nations, “around 175 million persons currently reside in a country other than where they were born, which is about 3 per cent of world population.  The number of migrants has more than doubled since 1970.” (p. 2).  Of these migrants, 60 per cent are in the more developed and 40 per cent in the less developed regions.  Europe has 56 million, Asia 50 million, and Northern America 41 million.  As a result, “almost one out of every 10 persons living in the more developed regions is a migrant.  In contrast, nearly one out of every 70 persons in developing countries is a migrant.”   Of these, around 16 million people are refugees or asylum seekers, often without a permanent home and living in refugee camps.

All data from United Nations, International Migration Report 2002.


Where migration has been especially large is in Europe.  While there many emigrants from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, and there was a lot of population movement associated with the wars in Europe, what is new is the immigration of people from Africa and the Middle East to Europe, a development that has begun to change the ethnic and cultural composition of the European countries.  In this sense, some of the changes Europe is currently encountering are the sorts of changes that have been common in North America for a long time, and policies of multiculturalism and integration, used in North America for some time, are being investigated by Europeans.  Increased immigration levels to European countries have caused many social strains and have led citizens of these countries to reconsider what the  citizenship and nationality means.


North America too has experienced increased immigration, with the United States being the country with by far the largest number of immigrants, 35 million, probably more than Western Europe has.  The nature of immigration to North America has changed a lot though, with much greater representation from Central and South America, Asia, and the Caribbean, and much less from Europe.


One effect of this increase has been an increase in attention being paid by government policymakers to immigration.  The United Nations publication (p. 22) shows that, on average in the 1970s, there were about ten laws per year enacted with respect to migration.  In the 1990s, the annual numbers were 40-50 laws per year.  A glance at the issues raised by policy-makers shows attention being paid to illegal immigration, regulating migration flows, reducing the number of immigrants, managing immigrant labour, and issues related to terrorism and security. 


The above indicate that issues related to immigration and ethnic relations will continue to be a major concern in the coming year. 


4.      Immigration and labour force


One of the key reasons for international migration is related to use of labour and economic issues more generally.  Immigrants are often regarded as cheap labour and willing to do the work that citizens of a country are reluctant to do.  Alternatively, immigrants sometimes provide special skills that are in short supply in the country of immigration. 


The labour force aspect has several important connections with migration and ethnic relations.  First, for those emigrating from other countries, it was often poverty or the search for better opportunities which has led to emigration.  Second, from the perspective of the receiving country, immigrants have often been brought into the country for specific labour force needs or for purposes of economic development.   Third, the economic and social structure that emerged, including ethnic structures and relations, may be srongly influenced by the way that immigrants came to the country and the position they occupied in the country – the external or outer boundaries discussed earlier.  Fourth, in terms of integration of immigrants and ethnic groups, labour force status, income, and social mobility are often the standards used for judging whether integration has been successful or not.   Fifth, immigration levels and types are often judged by what the benefits are for the receiving country.   Immigrants themselves may attempt to balance costs and benefits, migrating if they anticipate benefits exceed costs.  For the country of immigration, immigration may be adjusted in an attempt to make anticipated benefits exceed anticipated costs.


5.      History of Canada and Saskatchewan


In many ways, the history of Canada can be told through a history of migration to and from Canada.  A similar history of Saskatchewan could be told through a migration history of this province.  This is the topic of Isajiw, chapter 4, but a quick history is that of French and British immigration, then central and eastern European immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, followed by greater immigration from southern Europe after the second world war, and then by immigration from around the world, especially Asia, after 1970.  Each of these migratory movements was highly connected with the economic and labour force history of Canada – early staple trades, development of infrastructure (canals and railroads), settlement of agricultural lands, development of mining and forestry, and expansion of industry.  More recently, the labour demands of the service sector have dominated the expansion of the labour force (health, education, personal services, commerce) and immigrants have filled many of the openings in these areas. 


In addition to labour force issues, immigration and settlement policy in Canada has been concerned with family reunification, refugee and humanitarian considerations, and attracting entrepreneurs and businesspeople.  Earlier in Canadian history there was a great concern with the culture and ancestry of immigrants.  More recently the concern of Canadian immigration policy appears to be with the perceived labour force requirements of Canada and the ability of immigrants to adjust to and integrate into Canadian society.



Last edited October 15, 2004