Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Debbie Laliberte Rudman


This critical ethnography examines the experiences of French-speaking immigrants from visible minority groups within the London, Ontario Francophone minority community (FMC). It challenges assumptions embedded within understandings of ‘successful’ integration, and highlights barriers faced by immigrants in enacting occupation and negotiating identity. The study draws on occupational science and migration studies, and the theoretical framework incorporates key concepts from Goffman and Bourdieu’s theories of performance and practice and anti-racist and postcolonial feminist literature. Eight immigrants participated in up to five sessions consisting of narrative and in-depth interviews, creating a mental map, and engaging in routine occupations. Six respondents from local organizations participated in an in-depth interview, and relevant government documents were critically reviewed. Findings highlight that integration involves a process of ‘starting over’ entailing becoming aware of differences in fields and habitus within and between home and host societies, learning ‘how things work’ in the host community, voicing the unspoken assumptions characterizing fields and habitus, and negotiating performances in social interactions. This negotiation is enabled or constrained by immigrants’ differential access to capital, which is related to ways immigrants’ intersecting markers of identity are constructed within particular places and ultimately has implications for their occupational possibilities. Better understanding integration into FMCs requires problematizing the process and outcomes of successful integration implied in government documents. Current understandings of successful integration must be questioned in order to attend to the diversity among and within FMCs, and to challenge processes of exclusion that hinder newcomers’ integration and sense of being and belonging.