Multiculturalism, Market-Driven Immigration, and the Immigrant "Others": Media Representations of Immigration and Refugee Policies in Canada

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Chuong, Kim Hoa
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University of Guelph

The term "multiculturalism" has been deployed in public and political discourses with its meanings and ideological assumptions often not being explicitly stated or critically discussed. Furthermore, multiculturalism is intricately intertwined with immigration and ethnocultural diversity issues in Canada. The current Conservative federal government has implemented extensive overhaul to immigration policies since 2008. Based on a social constructionist framework, the aims of this dissertation are: 1) to present a critical discussion on Canadian multiculturalism, its meanings, and its connection to immigration and diversity issues historically and in recent years, and and 2) to examine empirically how recent immigration and refugee policy changes have been represented in the media, with an analytical emphasis on the portrayal of immigrants and refugees. The first aim is accomplished in the introduction. I first briefly review the historical context of immigration regulations and the institutionalisation of official multiculturalism. I then present multiculturalism as being situated in liberal democratic ideology, and as lived ideology or "a society's way of life" and "common sense" (Billig et al., 1998). Finally, I conceptualise multiculturalism as a "contested space" (George, 2011) where political, academic, and public discourses intersect, and discuss some of the prevalent arguments and claims made about its societal impact. For the second aim, I employ a discursive analytical approach to examine media representations of the major immigration policy changes introduced in 2012 after the Conservative Party won its first majority government. I demonstrate how the ample coverage of immigration and refugee frauds constructs an immigration and refugee system in crisis, which enables policy changes for more restrictive immigration and refugee admission to be positioned as pragmatic, rational, and commonsensical interventions. Moreover, I argue that the prevailing immigration discourse is based on neoliberal ideology and market logic, which selects the "right" immigrants in economic terms and gives a primary role to the market in this selection. The national inclusion and belonging of immigrants is, thus, reduced to their economic contributions, while immigrants are simultaneously cast as the non-contributing internal "others." Shifting representations of Canadian identity are variously mobilised to support or contest the emphasis on market-driven immigration.

multiculturalism, immigration, refugee, immigration policy, media representation, social constructionism, discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, multicultural ideology, neoliberalism, national identity, social inclusion