Interrogating the concept of the “ideal immigrant” within a neoliberal framework in the contemporary Canadian context

Defining Concepts of the “Ideal” Immigrant in Discourse

For Writing Assignment II, you are tasked with interrogating the concept of the “ideal immigrant” within a neoliberal framework in the contemporary Canadian context. Using key observations from Root et al. (2014) and Choudry (2015), which articulate the ways that concepts of the “good citizen”/ “good immigrant” are constructed, we can discover common threads in discourse that “embody [y] neoliberal ideals of self-sufficiency, hard-work and efficient Labour market participation” (Root et al. 2014, 5). The construction of the “good” immigrant necessarily posits that there is a counter category of the “bad” or “undesirable” immigrant (although in reality, this is a spectrum), and we observe that there are multiple threads that come together to construct concepts surrounding “undesirable,” “failed,” or “non-citizen” immigrants which are often cast as posing a fundamental challenge to the “cohesion and uniformity of the neoliberal state” (Root et al. 2014, 6).

With this in mind, Writing Assignment II asks that you go on a journey to discover relevant data in discourse as it exists out in the world. Seek out and analyze some of the discourses that have emerged around immigration and the ways in which these discourses play with neoliberal concepts of the “ideal” vs. “undesirable” immigrant. By way of illustration, Figure 1 is an example that I drew from Facebook by doing a content search: “Canada immigration” – we can see many recognizable threads and misconceptions about immigrants articulated by the authors and can diagnose the strategic uses of these discourses and framings to accomplish political and ideological goals – certainly, these authors are not referring to highly educated professor-types when they talk about immigrants being a “drain on the system.” These discourses can operate as code to communicate uncomfortable or problematic assumptions about groups or “types” of people hiding right below the surface.