Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy



Collaborative Specialization

Migration and Ethnic Relations


Allahar, Anton L.

2nd Supervisor

Nunes, Fernando



This research examines the interlocking effects of “race” and “class” on the integration of second-generation Jamaicans and Portuguese into Canadian society. Comparing a “visible minority group” (black Jamaicans) with a “non-visible minority group” (Portuguese) controls for the effects of “race,” assisting in the assessment of these two second-generation groups’ degrees of integration. This study uses an historical and critical approach to provide a background for the discussion of this study topic. The main research questions concern the role of multicultural ideology in both cementing social control and in the integration of working-class second-generation Jamaicans and Portuguese into Canada. To address these lines of inquiry, forty-three in-depth interviews were conducted with second-generation Jamaicans and Portuguese in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). There are two arguments this study develops that may be considered significant contributions to the literature. First, the ideology of multiculturalism is not merely a distraction from structural inequalities nor is it without value, for it can bear both negative and positive meanings when understood in the context of integration of second-generations. Second, this study argues that multiculturalism is a stepping stone to assimilation for immigrant groups, especially those that are racialized. The integration of second-generation Portuguese and Jamaicans into Canada’s mainstream social, economic, and political institutions is greatly limited in spite of the fact that its policy of multiculturalism promises equal access to institutions, regardless of national origin. Both Jamaican and Portuguese immigrants have been used as cheap labor since their arrival to Canada, which has contributed to the racialization of these two groups. Another factor that has racialized these groups is their culture, which diverges from the mainstream. Accordingly, for the Portuguese their culture and low socio-economic positions give shade to their whiteness. In other words, this study argues that, the “social color” of the Portuguese has served to render them “dark-whites”. However, on the part of the Jamaicans, in addition to these two factors, the politics of race and color as well as the meanings assigned to their phenotype have blackened them. They are thus seen as “blacks” in a society, where skin color matters.

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