Older Asian Immigrants' Participation as Cultural Enfranchisement
Research evidence suggests that older immigrants’ resettlement in a new host country is hindered by limited opportunities to engage within communities in deeply familiar ways, using culturally meaningful occupations. A recent study concluded that older Asian immigrants contribute to social capital; yet there is little understanding of how they go about doing so. This New Zealand study examined how older Chinese, Indian, and Korean immigrants’ participation contributes to civic society. Research partnerships were established with bilingual local intermediaries, who assisted the study’s design and implementation. Bilingual research assistants and translators were contracted to assist with recruitment, data gathering, and transcript translation. Recruitment was conducted through venues where older immigrant ethnic groups frequented. The seventy-four participants were Chinese (24), Indian (25), and Korean (25) immigrants, aged 60 to 83 years, who were aged 55 or more on arrival, and had resided in New Zealand between one and 19 years. Nine focus group interviews, three with each ethnic group, were conducted and analysed. Subsequently, 15 participants, five from each ethnic group, were theoretically sampled for individual interview. Three culture-specific provisional theories were developed. Similarities in the theoretical dimensions justified the analytic development of one cross-cultural theory. The resulting theory showed how their engagement with, and participation in, socially embedded older immigrant networks become a form of cultural enfranchisement and a pathway towards wider civic participation. While still largely hidden from social view, these older immigrants found ways of giving service and strengthening community for the good of all.