Slovenian Immigrants and the Ethnic Economy in Contemporary Canada
The Slovenian community in Canada, although a small constitutive element of the current population, has actively contributed to the economic and political development of the second-largest country in the world. Previous studies have only descriptively addressed the role of Slovenian immigrants in the construction of this important economic system. This paper argues that the development within the community has brought about some significant changes in social stratification among its members, specifically with regard to the radical global economic challenges of recent decades. On the other hand, the specific altruistic mission of Slovenian community organisations has remained largely unchanged.
KEY WORDS: migration, Slovenian immigrants, ethnic economy, Canada
We need to note that the research is limited by a lack of relevant quantitative data concerning an economic approach to Slovenian immigration. We cannot overlook the fact that the Slovenian community is small and as such is not a very intriguing subject for research in the field of political economy, where scholars prefer to explore bigger and more influential ethnic groups for the Canadian economy. One of the key conclusions is that Slovenians have never been completely assimilated into mainstream Canadian society. In fact, they have developed their own support institutions and also operated as an integral part of a dominant social economic system in Canada. The structure of the Slovenian ethnic and social economy can be understood as having strongly motivated its members to be actively involved in the prevalent capitalist mode of production.
Several other ethnic groups of much bigger size and influence have established completely isolated economic and social ethnic substructures. In this sense, the example of Chinese immigrants in Toronto described by Fong and Oka (2002) clearly illustrates the real differences between large and small ethnic economies. There is clear internationalisation of Slovenian ethnic business activities. As mentioned above, we can speak only of an extremely limited extent of transnationalism; only an embryonic network has been established. According to Žigon (2012), the lack of intensive development of similar structures is mainly a result of the fact that the so-called ethnic business relations are maintained not so much in the name of a profit but more as a result of the symbolic affiliation with the ethnic group and identity-building.
Immigration is a continuous process. Looking at the latest movement of Slovenians to Canada, it is evident that the ethnic structure is still relevant as a “support unit” for the newcomers. As the author has observed, several new Slovenian immigrants in the Toronto area have not only become members of the business community, but also quickly established successful small- and medium-sized companies. Last but not least, we should mention the widely-known case of a Slovenian entrepreneur who recently migrated to Canada and transferred his business and the related technology and know-how from Slovenia directly to the Canadian market (Notes on Fieldwork 2016).