"Just Check-out my friendster": The Impact of Information Communication Technologies on the Transnational Social Fields of Filipino Immigrants in Canada

Lusis, Tom Camilo
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University of Guelph

Contemporary international migrations take place during an “information age”, and information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionized transnational immigrant social networks. Immigrants can now maintain transnational connections with their source communities with less cost but more frequency than ever before. E-mail, web cameras, instant messenger services and social networking websites can be used to send very detailed reports about living and working in destination countries to contacts in social networks that span the globe. Drawing upon findings from 54 semi-structured interviews with immigrants in Toronto and other locations in Southern Ontario, this study examines the impact ICTs have had on the transnational social networks of Filipino immigrants in Canada. In this work I employ Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of social fields and forms of capital as a theoretical framework to develop the concept of “digital” capital, a valuable resource that can be converted into multiple forms of capital within transnational social networks. I illustrate how immigrants use digital technologies, and in particular social networking websites, to increase the size and diversity of their social networks, and to disseminate information about life in Canada. I also highlight how processes of social distinction and reproduction influence the accuracy of transnational information flows. This PhD project fills important gaps in the geographic literature, a discipline where ICT have been a relatively understudied research topic to date. It also contributes to the migration studies and transnationalism literature. Many studies that investigate immigrant ICT use have overlooked the importance of geography, and do not consider how uneven power relations between migrant source and destination countries shape immigrants’ on-line transnational activities. This research also makes important theoretical contributions to labour market theory. Classical ideas related to labour shortage and recruitment, hierarchies in the labour market, and the mechanisms of segmentation in labour markets have traditionally been grounded in processes that take place almost entirely in the destination country. This work demonstrates why a global or transnational perspective must be adopted when considering the labour market experiences of immigrants. The findings from this study demonstrate how the economic integration of newcomers in destination countries clearly has transnational dimensions.

Transnationalism, Immigration, social networking technologies, labour market information, Pierre Bourdieu, Facebook