The Sense of Belonging of Second-Generation Arab Youth in Montreal

Research Proposal

Mona El Samaty, University of Toronto


In Canada, demographic, religious, and linguistic changes due to immigration have raised questions about the sense of belonging of immigrants and their descendants, specifically the second generation (Goitom, 2017).  This article describes a proposed research study which will investigate the sense of belonging of second-generation Arab youth in Montreal, Canada. Belonging is understood as a strong sense of attachment towards a place or a community; it is also affected by whether individuals feel they are accepted by their society (Banting & Soroka, 2012; Goitom 2017). The Arab population in Canada, the largest number of whom reside in Montreal, is not always perceived as integrated into the host society (Potvin, 2010). My proposed research will consider how second-generation Arab youth understand belonging, how they describe their territorial belonging as well as belonging to different social communities, and how they think they are perceived by the majority population. In the introduction to this article, I present the contextual background and rationale to the proposed study. Then, I provide a brief review of “intersectionality” as the conceptual framework adopted for this study. There is also a historical overview of the Arab population in Quebec and the related literature. The proposal continues with a discussion of the methodology and the methods that I will use for gathering data from 12 second-generation Arab youth that I will recruit.  Finally, I will provide proposed implications for the study and topics for future research.


Au Canada, la diversité croissante résultant de l’immigration a modifié la composition démographique, religieuse et linguistique du pays et ces changements ont soulevé des questions sur l’identité et l’appartenance des immigrants ainsi que celle de leurs descendants (Goitom, 2017). L’étude aborde le sentiment d’appartenance auprès de jeunes arabes de deuxième génération à Montreal, Canada. Définie comme un fort sentiment d’attachement à l’égard d’un lieu ou d’un groupe, l’appartenance varie selon que ces descendants se sentent acceptés ou non par la société d’accueil (Banting & Soroka, 2012; Goitom 2017). Une population d’immigrants en particulier, d’origine arabe, dont la majorité réside à Montréal, au Québec, n’est pas toujours perçue comme étant intégrée à la société d’accueil (Potvin, 2010). Ma recherche proposée examinera comment ceux-ci comprennent l’appartenance, décrivent leur appartenance à diverses communautés sociales et pensent être perçus par la population majoritaire. Dans l’introduction, je présente le contexte et la justification de la recherche proposée. Ensuite, je donne un bref aperçu de «l’intersectionnalité» comme cadre conceptuel adopté et un revue de littérature. L’article se poursuit par une discussion sur la méthodologie et les méthodes que j’utiliserai pour recueillir des données auprès de 12 jeunes arabes de deuxième génération. Enfin, je proposerai des implications pour l’étude et des sujets de recherche future.

Keywords: Second-generation, Arab youth, belonging, Arab immigrants.

Mots clés : deuxième génération, jeunes arabes, sentiment d’appartenance, immigrants arabes.


In Canada, the increasing diversity due to immigration, has caused changes in the demographic, religious, and linguistic make-up of the country (Conrick & Donovan, 2010; García-Sanchez, 2010). These changes have raised questions of national identity and belonging for immigrants, and particularly for the second-generation, who are host country-born children, of overseas-born parents (Castles, 2002; Goitom, 2017). Justifiably, host societies expect loyalty and belonging from immigrants and specifically the second-generation (Goitom, 2017). Belonging, as evidenced in practices that enact identity, characterizes how the second-generation position themselves in their host societies (Byng, 2017). In this article, I draw on two definitions of belonging. First, I draw on Goitom’s (2017) definition of belonging as feeling at home and having strong feelings of attachment towards a place or a community. I also use  Banting and Soraka’s  (2012) understanding of  belonging as not only a reflection of the extent to which immigrants and their children feel attached to their host society, but also the extent to which they feel accepted by the majority population. Both definitions are complementary to my research. I will collect data that answers both parts, in order to learn about participants’ sense of belonging. Since belonging is most probably connected to territorial culture, authentic membership of immigrants can be explored by the culture immigrants enact, such as the manner in which they speak, the language they use in text messages, their manners of dress, the foods and beverages consumed,  and the music to which they listen (Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2004). Immigrants are accepted or rejected into majority society depending on the degree to which they conform to societal norms (Lagasi, 2013).

Whereas studies on belonging have focused mainly on newcomers and first-generation immigrants (Cervatiuc, 2009; Conrick & Donovan, 2010; Madibbo, 2016), there is now a growing emphasis on exploring the sense of belonging among the second generation (Duff, 2015; Goitom, 2017; Rosbrook-Thompson, 2015; Tiflati, 2017). Kunst and Sam (2014) claimed that host societies expect more belongingness and integration from the second-generation, while the first-generation is shown more tolerance by the majority population as they orient themselves towards the new society. However, the exploration of second-generation youth’s sense of belonging according to geographical regions as not been studied extensively in Canada (Larouche, 2016), and even less with minoritized second-generation Arab youth, a gap identified by Eid (2007), Gallant (2008), Larouche (2016), McCoy, Kirova, and Knight (2016), and Tiflati (2017).

My research, therefore, will aim to explore how second-generation Arab youth in Montreal, Canada, understand sense of belonging, how they express their metropolitan, provincial, and national belonging, as well as their social belonging to different communities. By Metropolitan belonging, I mean sense of belonging towards the city of Montreal, by provincial belonging, I mean their sense of belonging towards the province of Quebec, and by national belonging, I mean their sense of belonging towards Canada. Social belonging includes belonging to groups such as language, peer, religious, ethnic, and online groups. To explore participants’ sense of belonging, I will also examine other intersecting social categories that may impact their belonging such as family, gender, language, religion, heritage culture and communities, friends, school experiences, and experiences in the society in general (Jones & Abes, 2013).  Moreover, I will explore how these youths feel they are perceived by the host society.

My proposed research will take place in Montreal, Quebec, a linguistically and culturally diverse city with a population of more than 4,100,000 (Statistics Canada, 2016a), and which accommodates more than 50,000 new immigrants every year (Larouche, 2016). This city hosts the largest Arab population in Canada, with Arabic being the most spoken immigrant language at home (Statistics Canada, 2016a). It has a growing number of second-generation youths who use three languages or more in their day-to-day communication, i.e., Arabic, French and English (Allen, 2004; Lamarre, 2013). Montreal’s multilingualism is most probably due to the 1977 Charter of the French Language (known as Bill 101), which was introduced in the province of Quebec and is considered the cornerstone of Quebec language policy (Gouvernement du Québec, 1977). It reinforced the status of French as the sole official language of the province, as well as making it the official language of the workplace, education, and other areas of public life in Quebec (Kircher, 2014). In public education, Bill 101 required all children of immigrants to attend public French language schools from kindergarten to secondary classes, with very few exceptions. Today 80% of immigrants attend French schools (Tiflati, 2017). However, a longitudinal study showed that Bill 101 had little obvious impact on the private language choices of speakers, who fluidly use different languages on a daily basis (Bourhis, 2011).

This study is timely given some of the recent societal issues in Quebec. These include rising Islamophobia, as exhibited in the shooting attack on the mosque in Quebec City in 2017, and the perceived discrimination felt by second-generation Arabs, specifically in the job market (Beauregard, 2018; Benaïche, 2011). These issues seem contradictory with the inclusive and pluralist official discourse in Quebec, and therefore, questions arise as to whether these issues can impact the sense of belonging of Montreal’s immigrant minorities (Forcier, 2014; Rocheteau, 2013).

Arab Immigration to Quebec: A Historical Overview

The Arab world encompasses 22 Arabic-speaking nation states in North Africa and the Middle East. There are over 400 million Arabs in the world (Sweileh, Al-Jabi, Sawalha, & Sa’ed, 2014). People from the Arab world are heterogeneous communities with a rich diversity of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups (McCoy et al., 2016). In terms of ethnicity, there are further subcultures and allegiances within some Arab States. For example, there are Berbers in Morocco and Algeria, while in Iraq and Lebanon, Kurdish and Armenian identities respectively compete against national allegiances (Eid, 2007). In terms of language, Modern Standard Arabic is the only language used by the governments. Almost everyone understands Standard Arabic, and yet each country has its different colloquial language that is mostly built onto the Standard Arabic vocabulary. As for religion, the majority of people in the Arab World adhere to Islam, and while the majority of Arab countries adopt a Sunni faith, the Shia faith is largely present in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria among other countries. There are also Christian adherents across the Arab nations, particularly in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, and small Jewish communities still remain in North Africa.

Arab Quebecer Demographics

Arab Canadians have a long and complex immigration history. The first wave of Arab immigrants arrived in Canada in the mid-1880s, and were from Ottoman Syria, which is now comprised of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine (Aboud, 2002; Mouhoub, 2010). The first Arab immigrants to Quebec were Egyptians, Lebanese, and Moroccans, who arrived between 1950 and 1975 (Labelle et al., 2009). When Quebec gained the right to select its own immigrants in 1978, it privileged access to those candidates who were fluent in French (Oakes & Warren, 2007). Most of those candidates came from France’s former zone of influence in the Middle East and Africa, specifically, the Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), Lebanon, Syria and other non-Arab countries in Africa (Gagnon, 2013). Immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East currently constitute approximately 30% of the immigrant population in Montreal (Dajani, 2015). As a result of this high immigration level from the Maghreb countries, Arabic is now the most common language (other than French and English), spoken at home in Montreal and the province of Quebec (Statistics Canada, 2016a).

Arab Quebecer Spoken Language(s) and Education

The Arab population in the province of Quebec is heavily concentrated in Metropolitan Montreal (Gagnon, 2013). First and second-generation Arabs in Montreal are mainly bilingual or trilingual, where Arabic, French, and English are spoken (Eid, 2007). French-speaking ability among this population is high, with 90% speaking French fluently (McAndrew, 2010). The second-generation, as heritage language users of Arabic, are highly proficient in the language, which is an indication that Arabic language transmission has been to a large extent successful (Eid, 2007). For many parents, the heritage language maintenance of their children is considered to be of the utmost importance. Even with the pressure of hegemonic languages in host societies, Arab immigrant communities have always strived to maintain their heritage languages (Eid, 207). One reason Arab communities have maintained their languages is their fear of cultural absorption by the host society. Efforts to maintain heritage language include enrolling children in language or religion classes, speaking the heritage language at home, watching heritage country TV, as well as making numerous visits to the country of origin.

A large number of the Arab population in Quebec enjoys a relatively high economic status and a fair degree of linguistic integration, which consequently explains their high scholastic achievement (McAndrew, 2010). More than 71% of Arab students receive a high school diploma (McAndrew et al., 2015). Moreover, the schooling profile of the Arab second-generation exhibits very positive results in high school graduation and access to higher education (McAndrew & Bakhshaei, 2012).

In order to explore and understand second-generation Arab youth’s sense of belonging, I am using intersectionality as a theoretical framework.

Theoretical Framework: Intersectionality

Peoples’ lives are multidimensional and complex; they are shaped by different social dynamics that are operating simultaneously. This is known as intersectionality, a term coined by American legal race scholar Kimberley Crenshaw in 1989 to refer to the interrelations of different social divisions in peoples’ lives and the ways in which different social vectors are interrelated in creating social inequalities. Crenshaw argued that intersectionality underscores the multidimensionality of marginalized subjects’ lived experiences (Crenshaw, 1989). Intersectional approaches recognized the scholarship of black feminists in the United States of America, which had previously studied the intersections of race, class and gender, as intersecting oppressions (Crenshaw, 1989). Later literature expanded intersecting social categories to include capitalism and patriarchy (Collins, 2000), sexuality, religion, language, ethnicity, and age (Han, 2014), geography, location, and migration status (Hankivsky, 2014). Intersectionality traditionally focuses on disadvantaged groups to give voice to their experiences and perspectives.

Intersectionality is also concerned with understanding the matrix of domination that influences patterns of oppression, and how these emerging inequalities are legitimized (Collins, 1990; Crenshaw, 1991). Inequalities can be the result of the intersection of different social categories and power, as exemplified in law, policies, religious institutions, ethnic communities, and media. This perspective offers a way to understand how particular identities (e.g., Arab, immigrant, and young) produce certain economic, social, and political inequalities (e.g., discrimination) in immigrants’ lives depending on their geographic location (Mirza, 2013).

One example of social inequality is language when it intersects with race, religion, and gender. Discrimination on the basis of which language(s) people speak, natively or otherwise, and how they speak it is referred to as linguicism. The term also includes languages that immigrants or their descendants do not speak, read, or master. In the same way, those whose spoken language does not correspond to the accent or the variety of language used by the majority population may be stigmatized, or seen as incompetent (Lippi‐Green, 2012). Linguicism has been described as a possible by-product of linguistic nationalism, which racializes immigrants and their children depending on where they fall in the linguistic and racial hierarchy of their society (Han, 2014). Consequently, language can be used, for example, as a tool to differentiate between those who belong and those who do not, and it can be operationalized into who to hire, and who to reject. Since intersectionality encourages critical reflection, it further allows for an examination of the simultaneous influence of, and resistance to, such systems of domination in a society (Hankivsky, 2014). On the other hand, second generation youths may (at times deliberately) adopt a native or non-native accent, strategically, in order to distance themselves from their ethnicity or remain racialized. Youths may change accents depending on context and encounters, matching their interlocutors’ accent (Ramjattan, 2019).

One of the main criticisms of intersectionality is that it has currently become a catch-all approach chosen by liberal feminism from a neoliberal perspective that theorizes identity as a result of diversity, while avoiding an analysis of power relations (Salem, 2018). However, when using the paradigm of intersectionality, my analysis will extend into structural inequalities and power relations within intersecting categories.

Analysing a social phenomenon, such as sense of belonging, requires an investigation of the overlapping categories that come into contact with it, such as ethnicity, race, identity, gender, religion, language, and generation status, which is why I will use intersectionality as a conceptual framework for my study. The categories that shape the experiences of participants are further influenced by sociopolitical circumstances, geography, and systems of power, and eventually affect the sense of belonging of participants (Christensen, 2009; Hankivsky, 2014). In other words, the intersectional lens will reveal the ways in which these interconnected systems result in experiencing privilege or racial, ethnic, and gendered marginalization and oppression by linking, for instance, participants’ experiences with their formulation of their identities and territorial sense of belonging. Intersectionality also captures some aspects of inequality that are commonly experienced by social groups who share certain characteristics (Valdez & Golash-Boza, 2020). For instance, in the context of this research, intersectionality can explain how othering is organized and practised in a particular society; intersectional othering may mean constructing the second-generation as failing to adapt to the local culture because they have a different skin colour, name, heritage, religion, or accent (Shin, 2012). Hence, the inferior other, who may be culturally undesirable and/or socially inassimilable, may be contrasted to a national we that is white and Anglo-Saxon. Using an intersectional analysis will have significant implications for ethnic and identity studies, as well as the identification and integration of Arab immigrant descendants in the Montreal society.

Literature Review

In this section, I briefly review the literature on the characteristics and belonging of second-generation youth. This review acknowledges intersecting social categories that impact belonging such as religion and ethnicity.

Second-Generation Youth

In general, at the emerging adulthood stage, youth share common challenges such as identity exploration, looking for employment opportunities, as well as social characteristics such as instability, self-focus, and feeling in-between adolescence and adulthood (Arnett, 2006). Youth is characterized as a phase of life where a large extent of one’s identity is being formed. Roth-Gordon and Woronov (2009) explained that for second-generation youth, identity is no longer a choice, but a set of categories that are available for them since childhood. Identity uncertainty has been a common characteristic of second-generation youth (Gallant, 2008). Their identities are formed by the way they see or imagine themselves, how they relate to the social world, and how they are positioned by others in their various social, cultural and linguistic settings (Hornberger, 2007; Norton, 2013). Scholars such as Goitom (2017), Kobayashi (2008) and Tiflati( 2017) have pointed to the dearth of studies on second-generation youth in Canada; it is important to study this second-generation for a number of reasons. First, they represent a link between their immigrant parents and the host society. They have access to two cultural norms, growing up surrounded by members of their family and their ethnic community as they are integrating into their host society. Second, through the second generation, we can better understand the long-term effects of migration and integration dynamics, manifested through their experiences (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001; Rocheteau, 2013).

Although born in their host country, these youths are readily defined as second-generation because of the migration of their parents (Roth-Gordon & Woronov, 2009). Goitim (2017) argued that parents are the most important socializing agents for the second-generation children especially before school age, as they play a fundamental role in forming the youth’s sense of self, and their initial beliefs and values. They also play a role in the transmission and maintenance of their heritage language, as well as cultural, social, and religious practices to their children. When second-generation youths start school, they are socialized into the host society’s culture and values, developing multiple identities overtime (Byng, 2017; Creese & Blackledge, 2015).

Belonging of Second-Generation Youth

There are various ways of interpreting and understanding belonging. In particular, I am interested in national belonging and heritage belonging.

Kymlicka (2003) and Winter (2014) have asserted that for a country to prosper, its citizens must have a strong national identity that supersedes all other identities. Some studies have explored the provincial and national sense of belonging of second-generation Arab youth. For example, Tiflati (2017) asked second-generation Quebecer Muslim youths about their belonging to Quebec and Canada. Most of his participants were proud of being affiliated with Quebec, yet considered themselves Canadian first, and Quebecer second.

The youths’ national belonging may be impacted by negative experiences they face in the host society. Examples include their loyalty being questioned despite their success in education and employment (Reitz & Bannerji, 2007), their identity markers such as looks, language, accent, ethnicity, first names, or religion being used to attest they are not from this place (Forcier, 2014), or being subjected to discrimination in employment (Beauregard, 2018). Another reason that may negatively affect second-generation youths’ belonging to their host society is Islamophobia, which they may personally perceive in the form of discrimination or are reminded of in incidents such as the attack on the mosque in Quebec in 2017, or bills that seem to target their Islamic community (Beauregard, 2018; Benaïche, 2011).

Even though these issues seem contradictory with the official pluralist discourse in Quebec, they may contribute to the manner in which these youths integrate into their societies (Forcier, 2014; Khachouk, 2012). Upon feeling stigmatized and unaccepted, they may become unwilling to participate in social activities, and even oppose the values and norms of society, which may further reinforce their isolation and exclusion (Castel, 1991). As they withdraw from society, they may join their ethnic or religious groups where they feel more valued (Benaïche, 2011).

National belonging alone, however, does not fully encompass the scope of belonging. Belonging to one’s ethnic or religious group, or heritage belonging, is common among second-generation youth, and creates a sense of identity (Kymlicka, 2001). Levitt and Jaworsky’s (2007) study found that religion was a space where they define their identity in relation to their parents’ culture. However, the second-generation’s religious identities are usually different from their parents. For example, Benaïche (2011) found that some of her second-generation Maghreb participants in Quebec chose to move away from religion altogether, while others’ level of religiosity was stronger than their parents, especially when they feared identity loss. Yet, most of her other participants reported developing a hybrid religiosity and new religious practices.

In conclusion, the sense of belonging is a strong marker of collective and individual identities, and is impacted by transformations in identity, lifestyle or cultural practices (Christensen, 2009). It is important to note, as Yuval-Davis (2006) has pointed out, that belonging may be affected by power relations whether it is family, host society or its institutions such as schools. It may also be constructed at the level of the individual, based on their emotional attachments and experiences, as well as the political value systems where people judge their own and others’ belonging.


In the following section, I explain the methodology that I am planning to use, how I am planning to select participants, and the rationale for using interviews as my main data collection method.

My research questions will be the following:

  1. How do second-generation Arab youth in Montreal understand their sense of belonging?
  2. How do second-generation Arab youth express their metropolitan, provincial, national and social belongings to different communities?
  3. How do second-generation Arab youth in Montreal think they are perceived by the majority members of society?

Methodological Approach

For this research, I will use a case study design. A case study design is employed in studies where little is known about a phenomenon, and where an in-depth, multi-faceted understanding of this phenomenon is sought, in its natural real-life context (Merriam, 1998).  Unlike other qualitative designs where the focus can be on the individuals and their stories, a case study design focuses on an issue with the case (Creswell, 2007). As Thomas (2011) explained, both the subject and the object of a case need to be identified. In this research, potential participants, second generation Arab youth in Montreal are the subject (also called the unit of analysis); the subject offers an explanation of the object, i.e. the research questions.

Case study design has many strengths; for instance, it is known to give voice to an arguably silenced population (Brown, 2017), allowing for an in-depth examination and analysis of lived experiences of participants. A case study report is also known to yield rich, thick descriptions of the findings of the study (Merriam, 1998). Like many other qualitative research designs, a case study requires time. I will consider the time it takes to recruit participants, schedule and conduct interviews, transcribe and code interviews, and analyze and interpret the data.

Characteristics of Participants

There are three main eligibility requirements in order to recruit twelve participants. First, they should obviously be second-generation, i.e. born in Canada, of overseas-born parents. Second, they should be between 18 to 30 years old. At 18, a participant will not need parental consent to take part in this research, and also will be able to share experiences in CEGEP (college) or elaborate on their post-secondary experiences. Age 30 is the extended age definition for youth for several youth programs of the Government of Canada (Gaudet, 2007). Moreover, to be considered for this study, participants’ parents must have emigrated from one of the following countries: Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria. According to Statistics Canada (2016b), these are the top six source countries for Arab immigrants to Montreal. Ideally, I would recruit two participants from each of these countries, hence, twelve participants. To my knowledge, few studies in Quebec have dealt with the topic of belonging with the second-generation. In those studies, it was either with a very large (not necessarily Arab) population, like Muslims in Montreal (Tiflati, 2017), or focused on a very specific geographical location, like the Maghreb (Benaïche, 2011). As Arab countries are far from being homogenous in terms of culture, religion, and even ethnic make-up, I opt to use maximum variation sampling (Merriam, 2009), aiming for a larger representation of the Arab community in Montreal, in order to yield richer and more diversified data.

Recruitment of Participants

The call for participants will be made in French and English and will ask for youth who are between the ages of 18 to 30, and of Arabic-speaking parentage. This call will be sent digitally to my network of contacts in Montreal and will be posted to closed and public Facebook group pages, such as pages for anglophone and francophone universities and CEGEPS in Montreal, and pages for the Arab communities in Montreal. The call for participation will also be posted on bulletin boards of universities and community centres in areas with large Arab populations in Montreal such as St. Laurent Recreation Centre, Centre communautaire de loisir de la Côte des Neiges.

Data Collection

I plan to collect data using two 90-minute qualitative semi-structured interviews for each participant. Interviews acknowledge the consciousness of participants exemplified in what they experience, what they see, and how they interpret their society and their daily experiences (Richards, 1999).

Interviews are a crucial instrument in qualitative data collection, where researchers learn about participants’ past events, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and interpretations about their experiences (Merriam, 1998). As my main data collection tool, I will use individual in-depth semi-structured interviews, which involve the use of usually open-ended and other probing questions which will allow participants to narrate their stories and generate insights about them (Berg, 2009). Such depth and richness of collected data and the emergence of new themes increase the validity of a study (Doody & Noonan, 2013). Semi-structured interviews are particularly suitable for intersectionality research, as they capture trajectories produced by the intersection of micro dynamics, exemplified in actions taken by the individual, and macro dynamics, a manifestation of power at the level of society and its institutions (Johansson & Śliwa, 2016).

Other advantages of interviews include that they allow participants’ voices to be heard in the form of quotes, as opposed to being hidden in statistics or summaries (Talmy, 2010). To this end, Talmy (2010) emphasizes the importance of establishing rapport with participants so that their true representations can be revealed. Rapport involves trust and a respect for interviewees and the information they share, as well as a comfortable environment for participants to share their personal experiences and attitudes (DiCicco-Bloom & Crabtree, 2006).

One criticism of conducting interviews is bias (Poggenpoel & Myburgh, 2003). To mitigate this disadvantage, I will ensure to be aware of and identify feelings or any assumptions about participants and their stories that arise during the interviews. Moreover, I will seek feedback from participants, regarding data interpretation, in order to avoid bias. Although I will avoid an unacknowledged biased subjectivity, I will allow a perspectival subjectivity that is expected in qualitative research. Different interpretations of the same text should not be considered a weakness but a strong point of interview research (Kvale, 2011).

I plan to collect data using two 90-minute qualitative semi-structured interviews for each participant, which will be audio-recorded using two smartphones and a laptop. Both interviews will take place in a meeting room in Montreal at a research centre affiliated with the University of Montreal or via Skype. They will take place in the language of preference of the participant (English or French) or a mix of both languages. The first round of interviews will be centered on issues related to self-identification, identification by others, language practices since childhood, culture and religion, belonging to Montreal/Quebec, national and ethnic belonging, and belonging to different community groups. The second round of interviews will occur approximately two weeks after all participants have finished their first interviews. Before conducting the second interviews, I will transcribe all first interviews, and identify emergent themes. Probing questions on those themes will form part of the questions in the second interviews.

Conducting a second round of interviews serves three main purposes. First, one interview is too short to cover the different areas that would answer the research questions. Therefore, the second interview will ask questions about linguicism, challenges faced by the second generation, the manner in which the media portrays Arabs, the role of schools in fostering youths’ sense of belonging, and perspectives towards services offered to youths in Montreal. DiCicco-Bloom & Crabtree  (2006) even suggest that preliminary analysis of the first interview data can cause a shift in the pre-set questions of the second interview, with some questions dropped or added, as the researcher learns more both about the participants and about the object of the research. Second, as explained above, after a preliminary analysis of the first interviews, the second interviews will be an opportunity to ask more probing questions to clarify or elaborate on issues mentioned by individual participants in the first interviews (Read, 2018). It is believed that in a second interview, a researcher can ask more personal questions that were too sensitive to ask in a first interview when participants were less familiar with the interviewer (DiCicco-Bloom & Crabtree, 2006). Moreover, a second interview is also recommended for novice researchers who did not use this tool previously, as it offers a second chance for an effective data collection process. Third, a second interview is an opportunity to do a participant check “for accuracy and palatability” (Stake, 1995, p. 115), where the researcher cross-checks information from the first interviews, as well as verifies and  receives confirmation from participants about his/her interpretation of participants recounts in the first interviews (DiCicco-Bloom & Crabtree, 2006). Participant check is one type of data triangulation and helps to enhance the validity of the research. Finally, I will conduct a pilot interview with a second-generation youth, a son of a friend, to make sure I can administer the questions in the same way I have envisioned, and asking the participant if he can identify ambiguities or difficult questions (Chenail, 2011).

All data will then be transcribed verbatim; I will do that manually. To analyze data, I will use a thematic analysis with a focus on intersectionality. Bowleg (2008) outlined the need for qualitative intersectional analysis to identify intersections of social inequality separately, as well as simultaneously. My coding scheme will consist of a two-stage analysis, open and axial coding, incorporated from both Borum (2012) and Bowleg’s (2008) intersectional coding schemes. First, I will code meaning units in narrative data using preliminary codes (themes) corresponding to the individual (e.g., identity, sense of belonging), sociocultural (e.g., heritage culture, experiences in Montreal) domains, as well as intersectionality (Bowleg, 2008). Second, I will use axial coding which focuses on refining overlapping, difficult to differentiate, intersectional codes into more distinct codes (Bowleg, 2008). For example, an instance of discrimination may be coded for gender, ethnicity, religion, or race and language. This approach to analysis can allow for insights on the often-overlooked intersecting factors (Borum, 2012). This coding scheme will result in a list of emerging themes. These themes will be further reduced to create clusters of similar themes. Themes will then be compared against one another to develop categories and investigate dimensions and characteristics of each category identified. Finally, next to each of the common themes and patterns in the data, I will include participant quotes that illustrate participants’ perceptions on them. I plan to interpret the data taking into account: 1) the intersectionality of different social factors, and multilayered contexts in which these factors occur, 2) my awareness of the Montreal society dynamics, and 3) my awareness of the Arab culture, language, religious beliefs and way of living.

Possible Implications for the Study

By learning about levels of belonging of second-generation Arab youth, this study will contribute to the ongoing exploration of factors that both promote and jeopardize their integration, with the aim to build a more inclusive and more participatory society (Carpenter & Mojab, 2017). Moreover, exploring how participants’ stories reveal their experiences in the host society will have policy implications for managing diversity in Quebec and in Canada (Gallant, 2008; Gosselin, 2015). These experiences can also inform immigration programmes about this large population of youth who will shape the social and economic future of Canada. On the other hand, with a deeper awareness of school experiences, instructors may understand and be better able to prepare students to participate and integrate in the society, both socially and economically (Rocheteau, 2013).

Potential Directions for Future Research

As this study is exploratory, future research should focus more on understanding what the second-generation youth feel shapes their sense of attachment, for example, establish what factors facilitate, maintain and encourage their metropolitan, provincial and national belonging. Moreover, more longitudinal studies on the sense of belonging of the second-generation are also needed.


To take second-generation youth seriously, we must first acknowledge that they are situated within a larger sociopolitical and historical context of globalization, migration, citizenship, and modernity. A close study of these young people’s identity and sense of belongingthat is, what it means to have multiple identities and belonging, the role of family and educational institutions, as well as their experiences in the host societywill inform understanding of national, provincial, and metropolitan belonging. In this research proposal, I seek to explore how second-generation Arab youth in Montreal understand their sense of belonging, and how they express their metropolitan, provincial and national belonging, as well as their social belonging to different communities. This exploration of the identity and belonging of second-generation youth is an essential research topic as it informs successful inclusion and engagement of these youths in their society.


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