SPEAK: Crowdsourcing Language and Culture Exchange

Applied ICDSPEAK is a language and culture exchange that fights intolerance by promoting diversity, creating new networks and sharing languages. It is primarily based in Portugal (a country that is doing a particularly good job at accepting and integrating new immigrants), but also Spain, Germany, and Italy.

From their website: “SPEAK is a linguistic and cultural program built to bring people closer together – a crowdsourcing language and culture exchange between migrants and locals that breaks barriers, promotes multilingualism, equality and democratizes language learning. Anyone can apply to learn or teach any language or culture including those of the country where they are residing. Continue reading “SPEAK: Crowdsourcing Language and Culture Exchange”

Some Observations on Internal Social Discourses on the Recent Increase of Refugee Immigration into Germany

Some Observations on Internal Social Discourses on the Recent Increase of Refugee Immigration into Germany

Guest post by Dominic Busch
Professor of Intercultural Communication and Conflict Research
Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany

[A couple of weeks ago, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz asked me to write down some remarks on the current situation of Germany receiving a growing number of refugees. It is an honor for me to be allowed to say something on that topic. And at the same time – being a member of the society under discussion – the topic seemed to be so overly complex to me that I felt I was not able to write something off the cuff. After some consideration, I have tried my very best, and still, I fear that I might have forgotten or overseen one or another aspect.]

In international news coverage, Germany recently has been referred to as having been approached by an increasing number of refugees and immigrants from Africa, the near East as well as from South Eastern Europe (see either this excellent quantitative visualization, or this textual introduction with many links to the news).

Here, I would like to provide some remarks on this discourse as well as on how the discourse relates to ideas of intercultural dialogue. I cannot but write these remarks from a perspective that must be acknowledged as a highly personal one. Writing as a white German male professor at a university in Germany, and having been born in Germany, I am in a privileged position. I cannot contribute from the perspective of migrant experiences. I am part of that wealthy world where some (not too many) refugees have arrived, and civil society grows in strength and self-confidence by successfully accommodating them, donating, teaching refugee children German language in newly installed “welcoming classes”, etc. Critics of my contribution may well refer to the fact that I have not been personally involved in any challenging situations in the context of refugee movements.

Still, I would like to give it a try from the perspective of intercultural communication, my field of research. Even more, I would like to warmly invite readers of this contribution to add their perspectives and thoughts in this blog’s comment section below!

The Basic Assumptions of European Political Discourse on Refugees

Inside Germany, refugee immigration has been by far the predominant news topic for the last ten months. Migration had not been a topic of much consideration in the German national news discourse as it is now. Recent surveys have repeatedly confirmed that, even today, for a large part of the Germans the refugee phenomenon is an issue that they do not experience except via news media. Nevertheless, almost everybody seems to have an opinion on the topic. The arrival of refugees centrally can be dealt with as an issue of socially constructed news discourse. Keeping that constructionist aspect in mind may better help in understanding the central characteristics of the debate: it is primarily lead by attempts to finding a position and attitude for a whole society facing a situation some of the people feel as being insufficiently prepared for. In other words, German society is faced with a new situation and they cannot clearly see where it will lead.

The Construction of Unpreparedness

To start with, the primary reaction of the EU as well as many of its member states concerning the increasing immigration of refugees is that they were not prepared for this. Overall, political discourse builds upon the assumption that the increasing immigration is an event that could not have been foreseen. From this initial perspective, discourse draws the legitimation for needing to look for new solutions – and (in case of need) to break with former principles. So, for example, some EU member states have decided to act autonomously in terms of the refugee movement, although they had previously agreed upon following common decisions of the EU on these matters. Specifically, some of the EU member states have autonomously decided to close their borders to refugees, while others have decided to limit the number of refugees they are willing to accept.

Germany

In the case of Germany, one central ignition to the debate may be seen in Chancellor Merkel’s now famous statement “wir schaffen das” [we can do this]), first pronounced during a press conference on August 31, 2015 and encouraging society that they (and the state) have the means to welcome and accommodate the growing number of refugees. Furthermore, taking the perspective of international human rights, Merkel avowed that moral behavior will not allow for limiting numbers of refugees arriving as long as they are fleeing prosecution or other significant dangers. Stating that, Merkel took a position that is more open towards immigrants than the one taken by her own political party’s center-conservative attitude.

From that point onwards, simply put, it can be said that German society has been split into two groups – one group supporting Merkel’s openness across any political camps, and another group campaigning for an enforced stop of further immigration as well as for expelling those immigrants that already have entered the country. Beyond this overall dichotomy, the debate has some further nuances, all speaking either for one political camp or the other one. Generally this divide may accurately be described by distinguishing between the “old” Germans and the “new” Germans, terminology introduced earlier by Professor Naika Foroutan, who is based in Germany. Foroutan sees a large part of Germany’s population as representing the new Germans, and being open for aspects of globalization, migration and internationalization. Separate from them, however, Foroutan sees a part of the population that determines national identities on the basis of origin. Foroutan terms these the old Germans.

Over the past one or two years, discourse on refugees into Germany has grown into political upheaval. Newly founded political parties have entered several regional parliaments after a strong gain of votes during recent elections within some of Germany’s regions – propagating right-wing totalitarian and anti-Muslim attitudes.

The Inescapability of Being Part of Conflict Discourse

So these are the basic facts. The question now: what does this have to do with intercultural dialogue? First of all: A look at contemporary German discourse strongly teaches that there are no “facts”. The stronger and the more pervasive a political debate and conflict grows, the more it becomes evident that (as authors like Holliday and Dervin have stated for the field of intercultural communication, recently) any statement on the topic is automatically political. Even although academic research, above all, claims to analyze social phenomena from a distance that allows far-sighted reflection and multiple perspectives, any academic statement turns out to support either one or the other opinion. This is the case for writing, but even more, it is an issue for social discourse, which no longer accepts any neutral position but immediately categorizes any statement into one of the political camps. To date, researchers have not been pulled into escalated conflict. But since some extreme right-wing groups claim that the German national press media frequently lie, media discourse takes up a clear position within the debate. For the time being, most of the national media voices are pro refugees – to some degree perhaps just to counter the extreme right’s accusations. Remembering Spivak’s famous phrase, it regrettably goes without saying that here again, refugees – despite standing at the center of the debate – have no voice at all.

In sum, although I have long been convinced of constructionist and critical discourse analytic approaches to social communication anyway, the situation in German discourse just described makes it clear in a very painful way that once you are in a conflict situation, you will be constrained by your position as a party to that conflict, and you will not be able to pull yourself out of that situation by your own bootstraps. Even if you want to, society will not let you. Thus, from a discourse perspective, German society has maneuvered into an intractable internal conflict more quickly than might have been expected.

Conflict Discourse Ethnocentrism

Another aspect that comes to mind from the perspective of intercultural research is the observation that the debate on refugees is, to a breathtaking degree, ethnocentric. German news discourse and social discourse construct the phenomenon of increased refugee immigration into Germany as a singular and particular case that cannot be compared to any similar cases, whether in the past or in any other country in the present. From this perspective, the vast field of existing international research on migration is not considered relevant. Even more, the debate largely ignores the fact that international migration, and flight-based migration in particular, have been a worldwide phenomenon for centuries, and that, in fact, they are seen as a central characteristic of contemporary processes of globalization. Instead, a discourse of self-victimization of citizens of Northern Europe is being promoted. This ethnocentric perspective hinders political and social discourse from considering the phenomenon of increased immigration from a distance and in a wider context. Instead of well-considered orientations, society constrains itself to the search for ad hoc solutions. Even more, a general feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair on the issue of immigration pushes social discourse into a situation of feeling under pressure. This pressure results in a situation of perceived conflict where participants narrow their perspectives rather than widening them to find creative solutions. Social discourse gradually adopts a tone of conflict discourse. As a consequence, even those political camps that actually endorse the reception of refugees tend to construct the increased immigration as a problem, a threat, and even a crisis. The notion of a refugee crisis today is commonly mentioned in German national news media, although even this notion has to be understood to be a construction – with many potential alternatives. Again and again, some authors thus warn that the language and rhetoric of contemporary discourse on immigrants is taking a more and more dehumanizing style – at the expense of the refugees.

Strategic Culturalization vs. Anti-Culturalism and Culture as a Taboo

Although research on intercultural communication and on intercultural dialogue has developed a vast range of highly sophisticated and differentiating notions of culture, these notions have not played any considerable role in contemporary social discourse. Instead, supporters of right-wing parties opposing the reception of refugees strategically have made use of rather crude and essentialist notions of culture. Until this happened, scholars might have believed that their research had overcome such outdated concepts. Instead, assumed cultural differences between refugees and Germans are being used to foment fear of future social and/or cultural conflict inside the country. Cultural particularities are made responsible for a putatively higher crime rate and even terrorism. In other words, talking about culture in the debate on refugees has so thoroughly been monopolized by extreme right-wing voices that the rest of the political camps see only one chance to oppose them: Instead of arguing for more differentiating (e.g. interactionist or constructionist) concepts of culture, residing political parties as well as news media act as if their only option is to completely ignore and deny the existence of culture as a phenomenon. For supporters of non-right-wing political camps, talking about culture has become taboo. Speaking the language of intercultural research, an anti-culturalism here (again) turns out to be the only morally acceptable attitude. To some degree, intercultural research is significantly threatened by this taboo. Social and political discourse here passes up the chance of gaining insights into how cultural identities are co-constructed in both face-to-face and media interaction, and how their construction can be activated in cooperative as well as in discriminating ways. In short, a careful look at the role of culture and its force as a discursive construction might help in finding ways to transcend the conflict discourse, yet these ways seem to be blocked by that very discourse at the moment.

Insights into the genuinely constructionist nature of social and political discourse may turn out to be the only chance for evading and escaping the conflict circle that has been described here. Even though this line of argument may perhaps give the impression of being abstract, and even complex, interculturalists, opinion makers, and the news media should be highly encouraged to contribute to establishing this perspective.

NOTE: See the response prompted by this post, by Peter Praxmarer.

Comics for Equality wins Intercultural Innovation Award

This video presents the Comics for Equality project, which won the Intercultural Innovation Award 2014, a partnership between United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and BMW Group. The project was selected from more than 600 projects worldwide and will be part of one-year capacity-building program.

✔ Take a look at the website: http://www.comix4equality.eu
✔ Join them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Comix4equality

The project ComiX4= is led by Africa e Mediterraneo (Italy), in partnership with NGO Mondo (Estonia), Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation (Bulgaria), ARCA (Romania), Grafiskie stasti (Latvia), Hamelin Associazione Culturale (associate partner-Italy) and Multi Kulti Collective Association (associate partner – Bulgaria).

The project aims to foster intercultural dialogue to combat racism, xenophobia and discrimination in Europe, with a particular focus on Italy, Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania and Latvia. In order to achieve this aim, the project seeks to involve migrants and second-generation immigrants – often the subjects of discrimination – in the creation of an artistic resource – comics – to be used to combat racism and xenophobia.

The main activities are the ComiX4= Comics for Equality Award – a competition for the best unpublished comic strip authors with migrant backgrounds, an interactive website, a “Comics Handbook” for creative workshops in informal education, an itinerant exhibition and comics’ workshops across Europe.

With financial support from the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union – 2012/

Mob-ility symposium (Italy)

Mob-ility Symposium
Wake Forest University
October 10, 2014
Casa Artom, Venice, Italy

Submissions due July 31, 2014

The story of Camillo Artom is one of mobility, the theme of the Mob-ility Symposium, to be held on October 10, 2014. The Symposium is an opportunity to reflect on the movement of persons, ideas, traditions, goods, and the political, social, and cultural ramifications of mobility, as they relate to the changing practices in travel, the environment, social-economic status, and technology.

These often include, but are not limited to, discussion of citizenship, immigration, diasporas, belonging, and place. Specifically, the Symposium invites a focus on the people who move (the ‘mob’ in mobility): migrants, travelers, tourists, temporary citizens, and asylum seekers, refugees, stateless people. Venice is a perfect site for the ‘Mob-ility Symposium’ as a historic trade city, a merchants’ harbor where people have always come and gone.

Keynote speaker: Dima Mohammed, a Palestinian argumentation scholar who is currently working at the Argumentation Lab of the Instituto de Filosofia da Nova at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Her domain of specialization includes argumentation theory, philosophy of language, persuasion research and political philosophy.

Invited: papers, paper abstracts, discussion panels, and encourage creative submissions related to all aspects of mobility, including:
*Migration, immigration, emigration
*Diaspora, exile, refuge, asylum
*Citizenship rights, nationality, borders
*Socio-economic status
*Travel, transportation
*Technology, mobile modes of communication
*Environment, sustainability
*Security, surveillance

Papers must not exceed 25 pages and must include a title, the author’s/s’ affiliation, and contact information. Paper Abstracts must not exceed 2 pages and must include a title, the
author’s/s’ affiliation, and contact information. Discussion Panels or Performances/Creative Expressions must include a 250-word rationale, a 250-word abstract of each proposed paper or contribution, and a list of presenters with affiliation and contact information.

Submissions from faculty, students, artists, activists, practitioners, and community members are all encouraged. Thanks to the Provost’s Office for Global Affairs, the Symposium is free and open to the public. Space is limited.

Send/Email all submissions to:
Alessandra Von Burg
Department of Communication
Box 7347, Reynolda Station
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109

Altay A. Manço Researcher Profile

Altay MançoAltay A. Manço has a doctorate in social psychology at the Université de Liège (Belgium). He has done a lot of work in the areas of educational psychology and social integration and the psycho-sociology of immigration, especially Turkish. Since 1986, he has worked as a consultant for many institutions and associations on this topics in various European countries and, more recently, in Canada. Manço has also been working with the Université de Paris V since 1998, and with the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec. Since 1996, he has been the Science Director of the Institut de Recherche, Formation et Action sur les Migrations. IRFAM is a source body set up by stakeholders in the field as well as university researchers for social action, educational professionals, etc. As a continuing education association mandated to develop diversity in our societies, IRFAM manages the collection “Compétences interculturelles” from Éditions Harmattan (Paris) and publishes a quarterly Internet newsletter called “Diversités et Citoyennetés.”

Selected recent books

A. MANÇO et C. BARRAS. 2013. La diversité culturelle dans les PME. Accès au travail et valorisation des ressources, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO et C. ASCHENBROICH. 2013. Migrants solidaires, projets jumelés. Pratiques et coopérations transnationales, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO et P. ALEN. 2012. Appropriation du français par les migrants. Rôles des actions culturelles, Paris, L’Harmattan.

S. AMORANITIS, A. MANÇO. 2011. Migration et développement en Europe. Politiques, pratiques et acteurs, Bruxelles, EUNOMAD.

A. MANÇO et S. AMORANITIS. 2010. Migrants et développement. Politiques, pratiques et acteurs en Belgique, Paris, L’Harmattan.

S. AMORANITIS, D. CRUTZEN, A. MANÇO et al. 2010. Développer le mainstreaming de la diversité. Recueil analytique d’outils d’intervention pour la valorisation de la diversité, Liège, IRFAM.

A. MANÇO et C. BOLZMAN (éds). 2010. Transnationalités et développement. Rôles de l’interculturel, Paris, L’Harmattan.

K. HADDAD, A. MANÇO et M. ECKMANN (éds). 2009. Antagonismes communautaires et dialogues interculturels. Du constat des polarisations à la construction des cohésions, Paris, L’Harmattan.

M. SARLET et A. MANÇO (éds). 2008. Tourismes et diversités : facteurs de développement ?, Paris, L’Harmattan.

J. DEPIREUX et A. MANÇO (éds). 2008. Formations d’adultes et interculturalité. Innovations en pays francophones, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO (éd.). 2008. Valorisation des compétences et co-développement. Africain(e)s qualifié(e)s en immigration, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO. 2006. Processus identitaires et intégration. Approche psychosociale des jeunes issus de l’immigration, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO (Coord.). 2006. Turcs en Europe. L’heure de l’élargissement, Paris, L’Harmattan.

M. VATZ LAAROUSSI et A. MANÇO (éds). 2003.  Jeunesses, citoyennetés, violences. Réfugiés albanais en Belgique et au Québec, Paris, L’Harmattan.

D. CRUTZEN et A. MANÇO (éds). 2003. Compétences linguistiques et sociocognitives des enfants issus de migrants. Turcs et Marocains en Belgique, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO. 2002. Compétences interculturelles des jeunes issus de l’immigration. Perspectives théoriques et pratiques, Paris, L’Harmattan.

A. MANÇO et al. (éds). 2002. Les violences exercées sur les jeunes filles dans les familles d’origine étrangère et de culture musulmane : le développement des capacités de négociation interculturelle et de la prévention (Allemagne, Belgique et France), Paris, Agence pour le Développement des Relations Interculturelles (ADRI).

Selected recent bibliography in English

A. MANÇO & P. ALEN. 2012.  Newcomers in Educational System: The Case of French-Speaking Part of Belgium. Sociology Mind, 2(1), 116-126. Available from:
http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=16902

A. MANÇO & S. AMORANITIS (Eds.). (2005). Recognition of Islam in European Municipalities: Actions Against Religious Discrimination. Migrations Letters, 2(3), Special Issue. Available from:
http://www.migrationletters.com/200503/content.htm

CFP Sociolinguistics of Immigration (Italy)

First International Conference on the Sociolinguistics of Immigration
25th -26th September 2014
Villa Queirolo, Rapallo (Genova), Italy

The First International Conference on the Sociolinguistics of Immigration is a two-day international conference which aims at bringing together scholars working on both the empirical and theoretical challenges posed to sociolinguistics by recent global migratory phenomena. The sociolinguistics of immigration is a relevant multidisciplinary field of language investigation. The focus of attention is, on the one hand, on how immigration can contribute to phenomena of language spread and/or diaspora, language contact, language variation and change, and on the other hand the development of mixed, hybrid patterns of language use and identities.The topics above will be mainly (though not exclusively) examined from the following perspectives of analysis: contact linguistics, bilingualism/ multilingualism, language variation and change and language/ dialect development. The conference is organized by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Modern Cultures of the University of Turin (Italy), and it will take place in Rapallo (Genoa) from 25th to 26th September 2014.The languages of the conference are: English, French and Italian. We are delighted to announce that the plenary speakers will be: Christian Mair (University of Freiburg), Marinette Matthey (University of Grenoble3) and Hans Van de Velde (University of Utrecht).

Abstract deadline: March 10, 2014

CFP Work, success, happiness, good life

ICA PRECONFERENCE: (RE)DEFINING AND (RE)NEGOTIATING THE MEANING OF WORK, SUCCESS, HAPPINESS, AND GOOD LIFE

Organizational Communication Division
Date: May 22nd, 2014
8:00 am- 5:00 pm

Sheraton Seattle Hotel
[With an off-site visit to The Seattle Glassblowing Studio]

CALL FOR PAPERS
What is the role of work in constructing “the good life”? How have our definitions of what it means to work, be successful, and be happy evolved over the years? This preconference examines questions about work and life including the important practical, social, and theoretical concerns surrounding these issues.

Aspiring to lead a good life almost mandates that every aspect of one’s life align with the individual’s personal definition of what constitutes a ‘good’ life in the first place. This idea though unequivocally includes pursuing a professional life of passion, pride, dignity, and worthy of one’s time, skills, and energy. At this pre-conference we will bring together scholars who have an interest in examining the constraints and opportunities for a good life and how that definition is shaped discursively by the different contextual factors that determine our material work-life realities. While there are multiple lenses with which to view one’s good life, we circumscribe our pre-conference within specific frames of work and its allied implications within, between, and outside of organizations.

We invite you to submit short papers (7-10 pages excluding references) pertaining to the following five themes: Socialization and Ethics, Immigrant Experiences of Meanings of Work, Sociopathic Demands of Modern Work, Positive Emotions at Work, and Career and Personal Life Sustainability (please see descriptions below):

Facilitators and Respondents:
Suchitra Shenoy-Packer (co-organizer)
Elena Gabor (co-organizer)
Patrice M. Buzzanell
Majia Nadesan
Dan Lair
Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik

Instructions for Papers:
1.     Please submit short papers (7-10 pages excluding References) in APA (6th Edition) format directly to Suchitra Shenoy-Packer and Elena Gabor by March 1, 2014.
2.     Clearly state the theme to which you are submitting your paper on the cover page (include your name, affiliation, and academic position (e.g., grad student, professor).
3.     The questions we provide under each theme are examples to get you started and thinking about the scope of each area. We encourage potential contributors to redefine and renegotiate the meanings of work, success, happiness, and the good life as they deem befitting the different themes.
4.     A total of 24 papers will be competitively selected for the pre-conference.

Theme 1: Socialization & Ethics

The socialization and ethics themes individually or collectively, will explore discourses about work circulating in, and produced by, socialization agents (e.g., Jablin: family, friends, media, education, part-time work). Here, the interest would be in how institutional discourses such as media and education discourses-about work produce discursive resources that shape our understandings of and expectations for work.
For those interested in the ethics theme exclusively, we encourage the exploration of meaningful work as a decidedly ethical question. We spend a great deal of time thinking through the ethical dimensions of communication at work, both in general (e.g., whistleblowing) and in relation to specific occupations/professions (e.g., medical ethics). What are some of these thoughts that translate to research and contemporary visions of leading good work-life?

To submit papers to this theme, participants are invited to submit short papers that address one or more of the following questions: How do socialization discourses influence the manner in which we make sense of what work means, the role it plays in our lives, and the nature of the working world? How do they enable/constrain the choices that we make in pursuit of meaningful work in our lives? What does it look like when we consider the question of work itself from a distinctly ethical framework? What are the ethical dimensions of the ways in which we talk about work? For instance, what are the ethical implications when we elevate some forms of work, and not others, as “meaningful”? If the choices that we make about work have implications for ourselves, our families, our communities, our world, and if those choices are implicated by communication about work, what are the ethical dimensions of the ways in which we speak about work?

Theme 2: Immigrants Experiences of Meanings of Work

Finding meaning in work has been argued as being the prerogative of the fortunate few who have the choice of discriminating between the work (or non-work) options available to them. But, what happens to this choice when the desire to do so takes individuals to foreign lands in the hopes of exercising that choice and finding meaningful work? Immigration is not a single event of being uprooted from the culture of origin and leaving behind the homeland to face the challenge of assimilation into a new culture. Rather it is a lifelong, multifaceted and multilayered, complex, and never-ending experience. With this theme, we start from the assumption that voluntary immigration is a deliberate decision to change one’s life, often, but not necessarily, driven by the optimism of finding personally significant and self-defined meaningful work.

Immigrant workers are known to experience stress related to their visa status, language proficiency, money, loss of connections and status in the work context, discounting of skills acquired in their native countries, ethnic/gender discrimination, feelings of isolation and insufficient orientation to new job skills, and wages based discrimination, to name a few.

To submit papers to this theme, participants are invited to submit short papers addressing how immigrants construct the meaning of work in their lives? Within the larger frame of meanings of work, some examples of questions are: How does voluntary or involuntary immigration influence work values and transform (or if it does) work ethic? On the other hand, how do lessons learned about work in one’s native country complicate workplace relationships in a host country? Do degrees of adaptations/assimilation change immigrants’ meaning-making initiatives? Are meanings of work consciously constructed and do they differ across types and scope of work? How are (or are they?) meanings of work differently enabled and enacted by immigrant entrepreneurs versus working professionals versus unskilled laborers versus those compelled to immigrate as refugees or asylum seekers?

Theme 3: Sociopathic Demands of Modern Work

Sociopathy is arguably an entrenched feature of modern capitalism. For-profits institutionalize sociopathy in the relentless pursuit of profits and market growth. Non-profits and government organizations, including universities, increasingly resemble for-profits in operations and decision-making logics. The result of this focus on growth and profits include resource exhaustion, environmental degradation, social antipathy, and the degradation of the human spirit. Instrumentalization and prioritization of unrestrained growth constrain praxis, that is, they constrain the possibilities for making socially proactive meanings out of everyday work activities as daily activities are typically subordinated to the demands of efficiency, expediency, growth and/or profitability.

Participants are invited to submit short papers that address the following questions: How can alternative, socially pro-active meanings be generated from the instrumental and often sociopathic demands of modern work? How can alternative meanings be introduced into institutional life so as to counter or temper sociopathic practices and decision-making? Is it possible to transform capitalism itself from the ground up so that opportunities for generating alternative and socially pro-active meanings are actually institutionalized in organizational decision-making and practice?

Theme 4: Positive Emotions at Work

Notwithstanding the tendency to focus on the pitfalls and problems of organizational life, being an organization member can also provide extraordinary, positive experiences. Sensing others’ appreciation can make endeavors feel worthwhile and open creative channels in previously unrecognized directions. A heartfelt thank you can contribute to an overall sense of contentment, infusing a positive mood workers subsequently bring home. Positive emotion is associated with improved overall health and longevity; increased altruism, courtesy, and conscientiousness in organizations; enhanced tendencies to assist others; and increased creativity and innovation at work and the experiences that evoke positive emotions.

Although a number of experiences elicit positive affect for employees, one of the most powerful is positive managerial communication (PMC). In fact, people point to these experiences as nothing less than life changing, the effects of which last years after the experiences. The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions suggests that “positive emotions … broaden peoples’ momentary thought-action repertoires,” which are the possibilities for actions or responses we contemplate and then use when in an emotional state. The theory also argues that “positive emotions promote discovery of novel and creative actions, ideas and social bonds, which in turn build that individual’s personal resources; ranging from physical and intellectual resources, to social and psychological resources” (Fredrickson, 2004).

Participants are invited to submit short papers that address the following questions: Within the framework of meanings of work/meaningful work, how do negative emotions contribute to positive emotions in terms of organizational life? How do positive communicative events at work contribute to positive upward spirals? How does emotional contagion work in terms of positivity and how might this influence meaning making? Why do praise, reward, and appreciation mean so much to workers and what cultural forces might be behind the importance of these to workers? What is the state of our current knowledge about communication and positivity at work?

Theme 5 Career and Personal Life Sustainability

Returning to the overarching theme of “the good life” and the role that the meaningfulness of work has in constructing a good life, this section centers on ways to research, challenge, and design meaningful career and personal life sustainability. This theme has three parts. First, work-and-life communication scholarship and everyday discussions typically prioritize work over other life considerations. In this preconference theme, the focus is on the sustainability of career, as the theme and structure that underlie and make coherent the work that people do, and of personal life, as the value of friendship, family, leisure, volunteering, spirituality, and other activities. Yet it is not simply sustainability but ways to fuse and transcend career and personal life intersections that requires attention from communication scholars. Second, the emphasis is on design as a process for achieving the good life and meaningfulness. Design is the architecture of and processes within and across career and personal life. Design can be predictive, adaptive, visionary, and/or transformative in its problem setting and solving capacities. Transformative design engages inner and outer environments in ways that create alternative stories from which designers choose. Designers construct visions of valued futures, of which the good life would be prominent. Finally, this preconference theme does not assume that everyone has an equal chance and choice to achieve the good life.

Participants are invited to submit short papers that address the following questions: How can individuals, potentially living dilemmatic lives amidst agency and constraints construct meaningful and “good” work lives? How can our interpretations of meaningful careers and personal life sustainability get defined and redefined in today’s turbulent work environments? How can we sustain work-life balances that transcend personal gains and embody holistic mindfulness that recruits partners, family members, community, and others as co-scripters of a good life?

Due Date: March 1st, 2014

Sponsored by:
Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, USA
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Management Communication Quarterly

Susana Martínez Guillem

RESEARCHER PROFILE

Susana Martínez Guillem (Ph.D., University of Colorado-Boulder) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico, USA. She is also affiliate faculty at the Latin American and Iberian Institute, and the European Studies Program at UNM.

Dr. Martínez Guillem’s work focuses on the interactions between cultural practices and social processes. More specifically, she is interested in exploring how particular understandings of notions such as “immigration,” “(anti)racism,” “tolerance” or “multiculturalism” both reflect and help to (re)create our material conditions. She is currently working on different projects examining how beliefs and practices related to these contemporary keywords are embedded in practices such as law making, public television programming, and social movements. Currently, she is exploring these dynamics as they unfold in the contexts of the European Union and Spain. Her goal is to expand the locus of this research in order to explore (dis)similarities across the Western world, as well as how these compare to non-Western realities.

Dr. Martínez Guillem is convinced that the best scholarship comes out of grappling with productive tensions among different methods, theories and disciplines. In her research, she draw from the Discourse Studies as well as the Cultural Studies traditions, together with scholarship on race, ethnicity and whiteness across the humanities and the social sciences. She finds these theoretical and practical intersections necessary as she tries to develop a research agenda that aims at approaching complex phenomena in a holistic way.

Sample publications: 

CFP Immigrants and work

CALL FOR EXTENDED ABSTRACTS
Immigrants and Meanings of Work: A Global Perspective (Working Title)

Editors
Suchitra Shenoy Packer, DePaul University
Elena Gabor, Bradley University

Extended abstract submission deadline: October 15, 2013

“We would like to invite you to contribute, help shape, and develop an important area of scholarship – Meanings of work from immigrants’ perspectives.

If you are an immigrant yourself and/or you have conducted research with immigrants within the intersections of race, class, gender, immigration status (or others), and work, we are interested in chapters that reveal how you or other immigrants construct the meaning of work in your/their lives. We take a deliberate interdisciplinary focus in order to be inclusive of theoretical perspectives. However, because we are interested in the subjective experiential realities of diverse groups of immigrants working in different parts of the world, we prefer interpretive, critical-cultural works that include immigrants’ voices (either as quotes or as first person narratives) as primary sources of research investigations.

Potential Topics:
We are open to a variety of innovative topics pertaining to Immigrants and Meanings of Work. Here are some examples:
*       Immigrant first-person accounts of their work experience explained in the context of academic perspectives of meanings of work/meaningful work
*       Religious ethos that influence meanings of work (and that carry over into the immigrant’s adopted culture)/i.e., A Buddhist immigrant’s views of work that influence her work experiences and meaning-making in an adopted Catholic country.
*       Immigrant work ethic/work ethic in transition
*       Socialization/adaptation dissonance between what was taught (e.g., values) in one’s native country vis-à-vis what is experienced (the “reality”) in the adopted country
*       Social construction of immigrant work identity
*       Pan-cultural/culturally universal work values

Please submit an extended abstract between 600-800 words (excluding references) to Suchitra at sshenoy1 AT depaul.edu and Elena at egabor AT bradley.edu by October 15, 2013. Questions may be directed at either or both of us.”

Where are you from?

The Where Are You From? Project (WAYF) is a series of video interviews with immigrants, citizens, new and long-term residents, and refugees in North Carolina, USA. The WAYF Project puts a face on immigration and uses technology to understand the human tendency and the right to move. We collect and share stories about mobility using a free and public platform that exposes users to the human aspect of migration, while teaching about multiple places, countries, and cultures.

The premise that everyone has a history of movement and the personal stories of the WAYF Project are particularly salient as the United States and other nations debate immigration reforms and look for alternative policies for all immigrants, from high skilled workers who enter legally to those who cross the border without documents.

Visit our multimedia website, explore the interactive map, and share the WAYF interviews with anyone interested in citizenship, mobility, and immigration.