The Social Organization of South Asian Immigrant Women's Mothering in Canada
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This research examines the social organization of newcomer South Asian womens mothering work. It explicates the processes that contribute to South Asian women making changes to their mothering work after immigrating to Canada despite having reservations about the same. Data for this research was collected through interviews with 20 South Asian immigrant mothers who were raising school aged children in Canada and had been in the country for less than five years. Eight key informant interviews were conducted with persons who engaged with immigrant families in their work on an ongoing basis for insights into how their work connected to the work of the South Asian mothers. Government policies, websites and newspaper reports also form important data sources for this study. Using Institutional Ethnography, the research shows the disjuncture between the mothering work of the South Asian immigrant woman and institutionally backed neoliberal discourses in Canada around mothering, schooling and immigrant employment. The research shows the manner in which the settlement experiences for South Asian immigrant women became stressful and complicated by the changes they needed to make to their lives to coordinate with these institutional discourses. The study explicates how the work of immigrant mother in the settlement process in the home, in relation to the school, and in relation to her own employment changes over time as she participates in social relations that require her to raise her children as autonomous responsible persons/citizens who can participate in a neoliberal economy characterised by precarious work. The study throws light on the complexity of settlement work for South Asian immigrant women and on the manner in which South Asian immigrant mothers values/priorities in relation to raising children become subordinate to more dominant set of values driven by global neoliberal influences that stress autonomy. The study has implications for the social work profession that is connected in many ways to the settlement experiences of immigrant women.