The political integration of newcomers of Latin American origin to Canada: an examination of the role and relevance of prior knowledge
Long, Neyda H
Hughes, Andrew S.
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The purpose of this research was to map the understanding of the concept of political participation held by newcomers to Canada from countries from Spanish-speaking Latin America. The relevance of the work lies in the view that this prior knowledge plays a significant role in how newcomers adjust to political activity in the new society. Canada has tacitly recognized the full spectrum of participation and belonging for newcomers, including its economic, social and political dimensions, but the historical emphasis in policies and programs has been upon economic and social integration. Here, attention is directed to the issue of integration into the political fabric of the nation. The research employed a phenomenographic method and data were generated from 70 individuals from 30 families. The findings revealed that the participants attach considerable importance to political participation whether through conventional electoral politics or through grass-roots actions. For the study participants, the concept of political participation includes components related to emotional commitments, community involvement, social action, freedom of conscience, the power to make a difference and identification with Canada. The findings show that the motivational force to belong channels the preferred forms of political engagement.