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Dr. Richard Bourhis

Richard Bourhis

Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychology, UQAM

November 2019

What is the current focus of your research?

I worked on four research themes over the decades which are acculturation and immigrant/host community relations, cross-cultural communication, discrimination and language policies affecting the vitality of minorities. Recent publications focus on how language laws can increase or decrease the vitality of linguistic majorities and minorities in multilingual settings.

Can you tell me about your current work on group/community vitality?

I recently published papers evaluating the impact of Bill 101 on the Francophone majority and English speaking minorities of Quebec (ESCQ). I looked at how Bill 101 affected the demographic and institutional vitality of the ESCQ in the last forty years. For instance, laws restricting Allophones and Francophones from attending English schools did succeed in reducing the size of this educational system to only 37% of its original size prior to Bill 101.

What would another theme be?

I recently published chapters on institutional vitality and health care governance in the Quebec and Canadian context. I compared health care provisions by and for Francophone and Anglophone minorities in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. I looked at bilingual healthcare provided in these three provinces, and whether it’s possible to deliver linguistically and culturally sensitive healthcare for language minorities. New Brunswick being officially bilingual, developed two autonomous health care systems: its English majority health care network known as ‘Horizon’ and its French minority Acadian health care networks known as ‘Vitality’. Each have their own governance structure and services where patients can get a bilingual health care response from ‘front-line’ persons and choose their preferred network for further care.

I then compare this best practice network with the emerging Francophone healthcare system in Ontario, and the eroding bilingual healthcare system in Quebec based on the earlier English minority health care system. Analysis of such bilingual health care systems reveal they cost no more than unilingual ones. This is good news for patients who most need linguistically sensitive health care known in the research literature as contributing to optimal wellness outcomes.

The other side of my research is the psychology of acculturation relation between majority and minority individuals known as the ‘interactive acculturation model’. We suggest that majority group service providers who endorse welcoming integrationist orientations towards minorities are more likely to accommodate to the linguistic and cultural needs of their minority clients than those who endorse less welcoming assimilationist and exclusionist orientations. 

After being involved with QUESCREN for many years now, is there any activity that you’ve particularly appreciated?

I enjoy being part of QUECREN and on committees such as the ILET Forum on Community Vitality through Education. These knowledge sharing activities and conferences serve the role of ideological clarification and legitimization, which can help minorities to mobilize collectively to improve their institutional vitality in sometimes difficult majority group settings. These ILET forum conferences contribute to the sharing of evidence based knowledge and enhance occasions for networking and fostering mobilisation for maintaining and improving the institutional vitality of the English-speaking communities of Quebec.

Dr. Bourhis is also a member of QUESCREN's Inter-Level Educational Table.

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