Immigrant residential geographies and the ‘spatial assimilation’ debate in Canada, 1997–2007

  • Pablo MendezEmail author


This paper discusses research published between 1997 and 2007 on the residential concentration of immigrants and ethnic and visible minority groups in Canadian metropolitan centres. Specifically, it reviews findings and conclusions that relate to the ongoing debate over the validity of assimilationist perspective assumptions regarding the typical social and spatial trajectory of newcomers. A Canadian immigrant underclass thesis is generally rejected, but some evidence emerges to suggest a potential bifurcation of the assumed pattern of sociospatial mobility. The traditional assumptions would hold for most groups, yet significant exceptions would justify an alteration of the model, essentially de-linking social from spatial mobility in the case of certain groups. Methodological considerations underlying this proposition are discussed.


Assimilation Immigrants Residential concentration Canada 


Cet article entreprend une lecture des études publiées entre 1997 et 2007 au sujet de la concentration résidentielle des immigrés et des groupes éthniques dans les agglomerations métropolitaines du Canada, et examine en particulier leurs conclusions concernant la validité des idées assimilassionistes, c’est-à-dire celles visant à définir une trajectoire résidentielle typique des immigrés. L’hypothèse de l’existance d’une ‘underclass’ au Canada est généralement rejettée, mais par contre on remarque la possible bifurcation du modèle assimilationiste sur la mobilité socio-spatiale. Les assises traditionelles du modèle seraient valables pour la plupart des groupes, mais avec d’importantes exceptions, en vue particulièrement d’une dislocation entre la mobilité sociale et la mobilité spatiale parmi certaines populations. Des questions de méthodologie font aussi partie de la discussion.

Mots clés

assimilation immigrés concentration résidentielle Canada 



I would like to thank David Ley and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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