Immigrant Experiences of Occupational Downgrading: Their Stories in Light of Possible Selves Theory
Author(s)Adversario, Jan A.
Adult transition processes
Immigration journeys, immigration narratives
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AbstractThis qualitative phenomenological study examined the occupational downgrading experiences of six adult immigrants. Occupational downgrading happens when an individual’s occupation post immigration does not match his or her education credentials and previous professional experiences. The goal was to make sense of the participants’ narratives through the lens of possible selves theory. Therefore, the research questions guiding this study were: (1) What are the journeys of adult immigrants adapting to the demands of the U.S. workplace? (2) How do occupational downgrading experiences of immigrants shape their integration to the U.S. workforce? and (3) How can we make sense of the participants’ narratives through the lens of possible selves theory? Phenomenological interviews served as the main source for data collection. In addition, artifacts allowed the participants to enrich their stories and assisted them in triggering important memories. Lastly, historical timelines from the participants’ countries of origin provided context for their immigration narratives. Phenomenological analysis was helpful in making sense of the participants’ stories. Themes that emerged from the participants’ occupational downgrading experiences include underemployment, shift in status, language barrier, feeling of discrimination, and lack of inspiration at the new job. Looking at past, present, and future selves, the participants’ narratives were examined first through identity transition processes: (1) separation, (2) transition, and (3) reincorporation and then through identity forming processes: (1) reclaiming past possible selves, (2) rejecting past selves, (3) constructing new possible selves, and (4) expanding current ones. The study adds to a developing body of literature focusing on the possible selves of adult immigrants experiencing occupational downgrading.
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International Migration and DevelopmentHanson, Gordon H. (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008)A decade ago, trade and investment
liberalization dominated the global economic policy agenda.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) had recently been
created, the United States, Mexico and Canada were
implementing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),
and much of Southeast Asia and South America were near the
peak of an economic boom that was driven in part by greater
openness to inflows of foreign capital. In bilateral and
multilateral discussions of economic integration, global
migration was often missing from the docket entirely. The
growth in labor flows from low-income to high-income
countries has not been greeted with universal enthusiasm,
either by policy makers or academics. In theory,
international migration increases economic efficiency by
shifting labor from low-productivity to high-productivity
environments. As workers move from Central America to the
United States, North Africa to Europe, or Southeast Asia to
Australia, the global labor supply shifts from labor
abundant to labor-scarce economies, compressing
international differences in factor prices and raising
global gross domestic product (GDP). Migrants enjoy large
income gains family members at home share in these gains
through remittances, and non-migrating workers in the
sending country enjoy higher wages thanks to a drop in local
labor supply (Aydemir and Borjas, 2007).