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Migrant Information Seeking Behavior: Policy Considerations for Information Provision and Access

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  1. Immigrant Information Seeking Behaviour:Policy Considerations for Information Provision and Access Nadia Caidi & Danielle Allard Faculty of Information Studies University of Toronto

  2. Overview What we know: • Information needs and uses theories • Rethinking ‘social inclusion’ • Social capital/social networks What we are learning: • Ongoing studies: • IPEC • DA’s dissertation - Living “Here” and “There” • HRSDC Report - What Role do ICTs Play?

  3. Stages of Settlement and Associated Needs Settlement Process involves (Mwarigha, 2002): • Stage 1: Pressing matters / Survival needs: • Food, shelter, orientation in city, language, health, etc. • Stage 2: Navigating the system and institutions: • Municipal and legal services, long-term housing, health services, education, employment, etc. • Stage 3: Sense of Belonging and Equal participation: • Not only do new immigrants need to know how to survive in their new home, but they also need to feel as though they belong and can contribute to the society in which they live.

  4. Immigrants’ Information Behaviour • Little is known about the information behaviour of immigrants because they are a heterogeneous group at different stages of the immigration process. • New immigrants are at greater risk of lacking access to information sources because they may be unfamiliar with Canadian information environment • New immigrant are at risk of becoming “information poor” • Social networks are significant information sources for ‘vulnerable’ populations, but many new immigrants do not have social networks when they arrive in Canada.

  5. Information Use Framework • Everyday life information seeking (ELIS): individuals require and seek information on a daily basis in order to manage their daily lives (Savolainen, 1995) • Information Poverty: lacking necessary resources such as adequate social networks, social capital, and information finding skills that enable everyday life information seeking (Chatman, 1996) • Social Capital: “resources embedded in social networks accessed and used by actors for action” (Lin, 2001)

  6. Social Networks • Role in mediating access to information resources • Contributes to our understanding of the social and cultural context of the information practices of newcomers • Newcomers may not have a fully developed social network upon arrival to Canada

  7. Social Networks (2) • Social networks may not be adequate (i.e., in terms of the size, density and strength of network ties) to facilitate newcomer transition to their adopted society. • Social networks are significant information sources for ‘vulnerable’ and low income populations • Social networks are assets that information providers must take into account

  8. Information and Social Inclusion • Lack of information or lack of meaningful access to information is a fundamental facet of social inclusion: those without proper access to information risk being socially excluded. • Information provision is a key component of social inclusion (Caidi & Allard, 2005)

  9. Social Inclusion • Social inclusion can be viewed as a multifaceted process • Requires individuals to be included into society and their communities on various fronts (economic, cultural, social, political, etc.) • Need for reorganizing of institutional infrastructures and practices • Access to information is imperative for large scale social inclusion (cultural relevance, usability, literacies and skills, etc.)

  10. What we know… • Immigrants tend to prefer to seek information from other human sources, particularly other immigrants (Fisher et al, 2004; Silvio, 2006) • Trust may play a large role in selecting information sources (Fisher et al, 2004; Sligo &Jameson, 2000) • Information practices build local networks (Chien, 2005; Dechief, 2006) • International sources such as websites may create feelings of closeness with home (Sampredo, 1998)

  11. What we are learning… Ongoing Studies • Information Practices of Ethno-cultural Communities (IPEC) • DA’s dissertation - Living “Here and There”: Exploring the Transnational Information Practices of New Immigrants to Toronto • HRSDC Report - Including Immigrants in Canadian Society: What Role do ICTs Play?

  12. IPEC Aim: To study how immigrant communities in the Greater Toronto Area find and use information they need in their everyday lives 2 Objectives: • to explore the impacts of culture on information practices: how does one’s culture affect information seeking behavior and use? Does “relevance” mean different things in different cultures? • to examine the influence of the characteristics of social networks on the search for information among new immigrants to Canada

  13. IPEC Methods: In-depth questionnaire of 300 new immigrants to Canada (arrived within 5 years) from: • China • India • Iran Inquiring about: • Information sources • Information practices – how do new immigrants seek information? • Social networks

  14. IPEC: Cultural Relevancy • Newcomers and immigrant groups have varied backgrounds and different experiences with information, its institutions and its technologies • We need to understanding metaphors associated with libraries and information systems (e.g. health) across cultures

  15. IPEC: Immigrant Social Networks New immigrants tend to have small local networks …but what about their transnational network ties?

  16. Living “Here and “There”: Transnationalism • Immigrants live their lives simultaneously “here” and “there” (Smith, 2001) • Immigration is a process of “ties and connections” whereby many immigrants will sustain relationships (i.e. ongoing communication, remittances, and political participation etc.) with their home country • Transnational network ties may provide access to resources not available through local ties

  17. Living “Here and “There” Objectives: • to examine the composition of new immigrant local and transnational networks • to examine how new immigrants mobilize the resources in their networks during settlement • to examine the settlement information seeking context of new immigrants Method: • Questionnaire & In-depth interviews to new immigrants to Toronto from India (arrived within 3 years)

  18. What Role do ICTs play? Objective: • to examine immigrant uses of ICTs • to determine how ICTs contribute (or not) to social inclusion Method: • Literature Review • Interviews with employees at ICT providing organizations in 5 Canadian cities

  19. What Role do ICTs play? The impact of ICTs: • Immigrants are less likely to be digitally connected. • ICTs have changed the nature and frequency of contact with home • ICTs provide new types of cultural consumption (online newspapers, newsgroups, chat rooms, and access to home country Internet sites). • ICTs have changed employment seeking practices and opportunities

  20. What Role do ICTs play? Preliminary Findings: • Immigrants use ICTs for a range of purposes including: • Developing skills for Canadian context • Maintaining ties and connections with home • Internet training for new immigrants is needed at all skill levels • Public spaces where ICTs are being accessed also contribute to social inclusion because they contribute to social network building • Further funding and resources are needed in this area

  21. In lieu of a conclusion…. • Information providers must take into consideration the complex location of immigrant lives - including the resources they have, barriers they face, and their understandings of the world. • A social inclusion approach will draw on the strengths within immigrants’ lives to facilitate their inclusion into a world shaped and articulated by immigrants and “native born” alike.

  22. References Caidi, N. & Allard, D. (2005). "Social Inclusion of Newcomers to Canada: An Information Problem?." Library & Information Science Research, 27(3), 302-324. Caidi, N. & Allard, D. (2005). Policy Matters Series, No. 23, CERIS publication. (http://ceris.metropolis.net/PolicyMatter/2005/PolicyMatters23.pdf) Caidi, N; Allard, D., Dechief, D. & Longford, G. (2007). “Including Immigrants in Canadian Society: What role do ICTs play?” Report to HRSDC, Strategic Policy Division. Chien, Elise. (2005). “Informing and Involving Newcomers Online.” MA Thesis, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto. Dechief, Diane. (2006). “Recent Immigrants as an “alternate civic core”: Providing Internet services, gaining Canadian experiences.” MA Thesis, Communication Studies. Concordia University.

  23. Contact • Nadia Caidi and Danielle Allard Faculty of Information Studies (University of Toronto) • Phone: 416-978-4664 • Email: nadia.caidi@utoronto.ca; allard@utoronto.ca • URL: http://www3.fis.utoronto.ca/faculty/caidi/home.html