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Building immigrant political power through participatory democratic co-construction of knowledge

Posted on:2008-05-15Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Brandeis University, The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementCandidate:Pineros Shields, AlexandraFull Text:PDF
GTID:1446390005452786Subject:Political science
This research explored the political activity of immigrants to change immigration laws. The study sought to understand the factors that promote or deter immigrant political organizing across race and nationality. This research is situated within the theoretical framework of liberatory inquiry. Based on the work of Paolo Freire, liberatory inquiry understands reality as a social construction, uses dialectic praxis (an action-reflection-action process), and seeks to produce knowledge that is transformative and emancipatory on individual and social levels. Thus, the goal of the research was for immigrants to generate knowledge that responds to their questions and informs their advocacy.Using a Participatory Action Research model, the study was conducted collaboratively with four Boston-area immigrant leaders. The data collection methods consisted of semi-structured interviews with Boston-area immigrant leaders and focus groups with immigrants from various national origins. Data was analyzed using constructivist grounded theory.The study's findings include: (1) immigrants have clear political consciousness as well as specific political strategies/demands, despite their lack of political participation (2) immigrant leaders want space where they can reflect, analyze, build relationships, and strategize (3) immigration policies solidify national and ethnic identities and often pit immigrant groups against each other in the struggle for legal immigration benefits and (4) immigrants feel alienated from national-level organizations that seek to promote immigrant rights.The study's findings have implications for Boston-area and national immigrant rights organizations that seek to promote immigrant civic participation and cross-racial cross-national immigrant political organizing. The implications for more effective civic action include the development of (1) strategies to advance an immigrant rights social movement by providing civic participation training to immigrants and creating forums for dialogue, relationship building, and strategizing (2) strategies to overcome the obstacles immigration classifications present to immigrant solidarity and (3) constructive communication and an engaged partnership between national immigrant rights organizations and immigrants at the local level.
Keywords/Search Tags:Immigrant, Political, Immigration, National
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