Critical Perspectives on Social Inclusion in Integration Education Programs for Adult Migrants

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

ABSTRACT
This thesis explores the process of social inclusion of adult migrant learners enrolled in integration education programs. It reveals the Inclusectionalities denoting the intersections of inclusion and exclusion through which liminal spaces are revealed that position migrant students as between and betwixt belonging and othering. The study is based on research findings obtained during multiple case study fieldwork in Finland and Canada between 2015-2017 consisting of in-depth and group interviews with migrant students and staff as well as extended periods of participant observation. The Finnish case studies consist of Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) programs at The Swedish Adult Education Institute (Arbis) in Helsingfors and The Civic Institute (Medis) in Mariehamn, on the Åland Islands, while NorQuest College’s Language Integration for Newcomers to Canada program (LINC) in Edmonton represents the Canadian case. Anti-oppressive methodologies (AOP), as well as perspectives integrated from Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) and Critical Migration Studies (CMS) with their ideals of challenging structural racism and working for social change inform the theoretical framework of critical social inclusion as well as the study’s research design.
The empirical findings show that social inclusion within the educations was tangled, episodic, and far from uniform or straightforward. Its negotiations revealed the presence of widely contradictory and conflicted responses which oscillated between Civic Integrationism’s striving to inculcate a “coherent” national narrative and Transformation Inclusion’s more “incoherent,” critical and egalitarian interpretations. The findings, presented in three main themes: Inclusion Within the Walls, Inclusion Beyond the Walls and (Colour) Blind Spots, also reveal that both enabling and disabling factors emerged in implementing critical social inclusion within the case studies’ different educational, social and national environments.
Educational programs where integration was myopically equated with host country language acquisition often lost sight of the breadth and depth – the “real life” focus – broader social inclusion demanded. Secondly, where an integrationist normative narrative – as in, “aren’t we supposed to teach them how to live here?” – justified prevailing power and racial hierarchies, it stood in the way of reciprocal learning and student agency in reshaping curricula and inclusion efforts. A third factor concerned how willing staff, administrators and other stakeholders were to turn the majority gaze inwards in interrogating their own role in maintaining cultural and structural inequalities as well as white entitlements. By diverting this gaze, the white social frame grounding these inequalities became institutional background and “common sense” views of culture, learning and integration eluded critical analysis. The fourth factor refers to the prevailing social and political climates in which integration education programs were embedded. Where these climates emphasized controls and compliances which racialized and othered migrants, they accentuated students’ abjection from the social body. Lastly, social inclusion necessitates robust expressions of joint political agency yet implementations of LINC and SFI were generally characterized by a politics of apoliticality. Because programs were not developed around critical citizenship foundations but emphasized more “neutral” incarnations of language and cultural learning, they extended limited sanctioned opportunities for teachers and students to collectively challenge social and structural injustices.
A key discursive and cognitive transposition is the study’s contention that if critical perspectives of social inclusion are to become a lived reality for all program participants, then majorities must also be subjected to the “integration spotlight.” Turning the majority gaze from the migrant inwards, presumes a sea change in attitudes, aims and program implementations. How one answers the question of who serves as an arbiter over which expressions of migrant diversity are judged as beneficial or as obstacles to inclusion is crucial here.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Blomberg-Kroll, Helena, Supervisor
  • Julkunen, Ilse, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Sep 2020
Place of PublicationHelsingfors
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-951-51-6190-1
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-6191-8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Fields of Science

  • 5145 Social work

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