Communication ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this study is to learn about the cultural adaptation experiences of immigrants to rural Newfoundland and what, if any, changes the communities themselves have made. I am particularly interested in what role communication plays in these change processes. To investigate this topic I conducted interviews and focus groups with both immigrants and native-born Newfoundlanders in rural areas and then analyzed the resulting data with a rigorous thematic analysis. To accomplish this purpose, I recruited and interviewed eight immigrants and 10 native-born Newfoundlanders in rural areas of the province. Then I conducted three focus groups with each of the two populations. In speaking to these 55 participants, I explored the substance and nature of their cultural adaptation and the communication that is helping and hindering it. The results reveal multiple dimensions that characterize the experience of immigrants to rural Newfoundland: struggle and loss; attributions of difference; interaction and connection; and responsibility to change. In addition, participants reported tangible ways in which communication can help or hinder immigrant adaptation or community building, which resulted in six communicative approach themes: "leaving be," "differentiating," "acknowledging," "opening," "resisting," and "bridging." These approaches vary in what I call their mindful engagement with difference, and represent the power and potential of communication to both reflect and build who a community is and what it wants to be. Finally, results from this study point to the subtle ways immigration is affecting rural Newfoundland. Local people are getting more exposure to different cultures, immigrants are forming small ethnic groups in some communities, and locals are taking steps to address the needs of newcomers to their towns. In addition, results suggest that other non-immigration related changes in rural Newfoundland also influence the immigrant experience. This investigation contributes to current scholarship by offering an in-depth look into the rarely studied area of rural immigration. It also offers specific communicative approaches that reflect and construct immigrant adaptation experience and community building. In addition, this qualitative work supplements significant quantitative research by adding rich, contextualized stories that touch on issues of loss, culture, identity, and change.




immigration, cultural adaptation, rural, community, communication, Newfoundland, Canada

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Foss, Karen

First Committee Member (Chair)

Oeztel, John

Second Committee Member

Lutgen-Sandvik, Pam

Third Committee Member

Avila, Magdalena