Migrants’ Communication Practices with ICTs: Tools for Facilitating Migration and Adaptation?
Migrants to a new homeland face significant adaptation and communication challenges. Information communication technologies (ICTs) are obvious tools to bridge these challenges. In this paper we investigate how migrants’ communication practices shape their use of email and the Internet as part of their settlement process, and consequently, their inclusion in and contribution to the community, economy, and society. The study used an experimental research design whereby student researchers undertook email and follow-up face-to-face interviews with 28 diverse migrants to New Zealand. The findings showed that their use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) was influenced by their preferred cultural communication practices in some instances, but not in others. CMC enabled migrants to make sense of their immigration/adaptation experience, as well as manage daily living, thus negating earlier research that “problematizes” migrants with respect to technology use and adaptation. Yet, this empowerment did not necessarily facilitate intercultural communication or cultural inclusion. Further, both inter- and intra-cultural communication differences emerged, especially in relation to trust and emotion, and in differences between CMC and face-to-face communication: ICTs are not neutral tools for communication. Yet, migrants valued CMC as a tool for long term economic integration with potential widespread results for success in the host society. The outcomes of the study indicate the need to research cultural groups both separately and within, and the need to explore migrants’ economic and social contributions to the receiving society through ICT uptake.
Keywords: Migrants, Intercultural Communication, Cultural Communication, Computers and Email, ICTs, Settlement and Adaptation
Dr. Prue Holmes
Senior Lecturer, Department of Management Communication
Dr. Annick Janson
Affiliation not supplied