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Differential Inclusion, Soft Domination and Good Intentions: A Reflexive Examination of Refugee Sponsoring Relationships

January 16, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

In this consideration of the idea and social reality of social inclusion for newcomers, Luann Good Gingrich applies Bourdieu’s “epistemic reflexivity” to the analysis of the institutional and interpersonal relationships in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. Reporting on a community-based qualitative study with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario, Dr Good Gingrich examines the tensions and contradictions of sponsor–newcomer relationships and associated positions and dispositions (or habitus) that are produced, at the institutional and interpersonal scales. Her analysis draws on focus groups and interviews with MCC sponsors and corresponding sponsored refugee newcomers arriving in Ontario between 2007 to 2015. Her theoretical conclusions and questions are also informed by qualitative research with Syrian refugee newcomer youth, immigrant women, and Mennonite migrants from Mexico, as well as secondary quantitative analysis using Statistics Canada datasets. For this case example, Dr Good Gingrich situates the institutional relations of the PSR program as nested social fields and sub-fields, revealing complementary and competing systems of capital that direct explicit and implicit visions for “success” in settlement. A critical reflexive analysis of this data permits us to “reverse the gaze”, to turn the analysis back on theoretical and applied conceptions of social inclusion and integration as they are commonly put to work in refugee sponsorship relationships, settlement services, and research. We are urged to move beyond common binary inclusion/exclusion frameworks, and reorient the focus of analysis to the social systems and institutions in which we all – newcomers, Canadian-born and Indigenous alike – participate. Dr Good Gingrich concludes that policies, services and measurement tools that are geared toward common notions of “inclusion” or “integration” for newcomers are predicated on precise goals for “them” and beliefs about “us” that work, ironically, to reproduce and reinforce existing relations of “soft domination” (Bourdieu) and dynamics of differential inclusion, or social exclusion.

About the speaker

Luann Good Gingrich is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Director of the Global Labour Research Centre at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her research investigates the interface of social welfare and human services, inequality and diversity, and migration studies. She applies her theoretical and empirical work to the development of approaches to research, social policy and practice that analyse and interrupt the processes and outcomes of social exclusion. She is the author of Out of Place: Social Exclusion and Mennonite Migrants in Canada (2016); co-editor of Transnational Social Policy: Social Welfare in a World on the Move (2017); and has published in journals such as the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies, International Migration, Social Policy & Administration, and Refugee Survey Quarterly.


Photo credit: MCC Photo


January 16, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


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Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West
Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2 Canada
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(226) 772-3001
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