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RESEARCH: How do premigration experiences influence immigrant political participation in their host country?

June 15, 2023

Antoine Bilodeau Antoine Bilodeau

A new study from Antoine Bilodeau, a professor in the Department of Political Science, looks at how hesitancy to participate in the political life of a new country may affect immigrants. Hesitancy can manifest in various manners, such as reluctance to vote, join a political party or attend protests. 

The study looked at two common expressions of hesitancy: general reluctance to participate, versus a fear of disclosure.  

2,000 Quebec immigrants were surveyed via telephone interviews or an online questionnaire, to assess both theories. 

Overall, findings revealed weak support for the idea that immigrants are simply reluctant to participate in politics. 

Rather, previous experiences under autocratic regimes appear to create a fear of disclosure related to any participation in political life in interview subjects, who have well-founded fears of government surveillance or repression. 

The findings indicate our beliefs regarding the reasons immigrants opt out of political participation might be inaccurate. 

Overall, the study demonstrates a need for greater understanding of why immigrants may be reluctant to participate in the Canadian political process, particularly those arriving from countries with autocratic governments. 

Improved understanding of this reluctance can hopefully encourage immigrants to be more active in Canadian civic life. 

Read The imprint of autocracy on immigrant political participation: Reluctance to participate or to disclosure? in International Migration.

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