Below are brief descriptions of some of our research projects. Click on the title to learn more.

Recent work has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to take advantage take advantage of mental health resources available in Canada. This tendency may be due to multiple factors including beliefs and stigma surrounding mental health in their social network and knowledge of the health care system. To date, there has not been much published work about specific social factors that may influence the likelihood that they seek help for mental health issues.

This project targets the role of social networks in migrants’ willingness to speak about and to seek help for problems relating to mental health. We investigate multiple factors in immigrants’ networks, including: cultural heritage of their close friends and family, willingness of their network to discuss mental health related problems, cultural practices and socio-demographic characteristics.

The project consists of a quantitative study of a heterogeneous group of immigrant in Canada. Social network analysis (ego-networks) are used to investigate the role of their social network on their willingness to discuss and seek help for mental health related issues.

Recent work has highlighted the role of social networks in processes of radicalization and extremism, a notion that has also garnered a fair bit of public attention. However, just as social networks may be implicated in radicalization processes, they may also contribute to healthy cultural integration and therefore be protective against radicalization, a fact that is often overlooked.

This project targets this positive role of social networks in migrants’ psychological acculturation. We investigate the relations between structural characteristics of migrants’ social networks and key acculturation outcomes, namely migrants' cultural practices (e.g., culinary preferences), values (e.g., individualism) and identifications, as well as their psychological and sociocultural adjustment.

The project consists of a mixed-methods longitudinal study of migrants from Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) to Montreal. Migrants from Maghreb represent a large immigrant group in Quebec, and in a context of pervasive anti-Muslim sentiment, it is particularly important to better understand how to promote favourable acculturation outcomes in these immigrant communities.

As migrants engage with their new cultural environment, they learn to know a new cultural tradition and to flexibly use this knowledge in their daily life, depending on the context. However, the mechanisms of this learning process are not well understood. Based on the idea that cultural transmission occurs through social interactions and that cultural competence develops from intercultural contact, this project examines the role of migrants social networks in the acquisition of cultural schemas.

We focused here on one specific cultural schema, namely that surrounding the cultural meaning of friendship. Different cultural contexts have developed very different answers to what it means to be a friend, or what can be expected from a typical friend. For migrants, relying on the wrong cultural schema may translate into unrealistic expectations from friends or awkward interactions. In turn, violating these cultural norms surrounding friendship may hinder the formation of lasting and fulfilling close interpersonal relationships, thus increasing the risk of loneliness.

We conducted this research among Russian immigrants to Montreal. Indeed, work in linguistics has shown substantial differences in the meaning of friendship between Russian and English - a prerequisite for the use of friendship schemas as an index of cultural knowledge. As a first step, we had established baseline friendship schemas in Russia and in Canada. Next, we examined what characteristics of migrants' social networks predicted to what extent Russian immigrants adopt the Canadian friendship schema or retain the Russian one.

 

We are grateful for the financial support of the following institutions.

FRQSC

FRQSC

FSU