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Learning to “fit in”: the emotional work of Chinese immigrants in Canadian engineering workplaces

Learning to “fit in”: the emotional work of Chinese immigrants in Canadian engineering workplaces Purpose – The paper aims to explore the emotion learning experiences of some Chinese immigrants in Canadian engineering workplaces. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on life history style interviews with 14 Chinese immigrant engineers and 14 key informant interviews. Findings – Research respondents constructed a competitive, masculine, and individualistic engineering “culture” in Canada, where the emotional and the relational, supposedly central to the Asian and Chinese culture, are largely devalued. To fit into the individualistic culture, some Chinese immigrants learned to change their patterns of socialization and some became hard‐nosed competitors. To ameliorate the deleterious effects of the alienating workplace environments, some resorted to their cultural teaching to maintain emotional health; some also tried to build collegiality and collectivity to humanize their work settings. Research limitations/implications – The study was not a comprehensive study of the emotion work in engineering workplaces. It does not capture the emotional order that may as well exist to afford different people differential negotiation power in the engineering culture. Social implications – The study suggests that while emotional connection and personalized relationship are “culturally” discouraged in engineering workplaces, they are of significant use value for immigrant workers and should be addressed to create humanized work environments. Originality/value – This is one of the few articles that examine emotion learning at the intersection of gender, race and class relations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Workplace Learning Emerald Publishing

Learning to “fit in”: the emotional work of Chinese immigrants in Canadian engineering workplaces

Journal of Workplace Learning , Volume 24 (5): 14 – Jun 29, 2012

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References (62)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1366-5626
DOI
10.1108/13665621211239886
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The paper aims to explore the emotion learning experiences of some Chinese immigrants in Canadian engineering workplaces. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on life history style interviews with 14 Chinese immigrant engineers and 14 key informant interviews. Findings – Research respondents constructed a competitive, masculine, and individualistic engineering “culture” in Canada, where the emotional and the relational, supposedly central to the Asian and Chinese culture, are largely devalued. To fit into the individualistic culture, some Chinese immigrants learned to change their patterns of socialization and some became hard‐nosed competitors. To ameliorate the deleterious effects of the alienating workplace environments, some resorted to their cultural teaching to maintain emotional health; some also tried to build collegiality and collectivity to humanize their work settings. Research limitations/implications – The study was not a comprehensive study of the emotion work in engineering workplaces. It does not capture the emotional order that may as well exist to afford different people differential negotiation power in the engineering culture. Social implications – The study suggests that while emotional connection and personalized relationship are “culturally” discouraged in engineering workplaces, they are of significant use value for immigrant workers and should be addressed to create humanized work environments. Originality/value – This is one of the few articles that examine emotion learning at the intersection of gender, race and class relations.

Journal

Journal of Workplace LearningEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 29, 2012

Keywords: Emotion work; Workplace learning; Chinese; Engineer; Social relations; Immigrants; Canada

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