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Information experiences of Bangladeshi immigrants in Canada

Nafiz Zaman Shuva (Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University, London, Canada)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 10 November 2020

Issue publication date: 18 February 2021




Studies on the information behaviour of immigrants including refugees across the globe show a significant dependency of immigrants on their informal networks for meeting various settlement and everyday life information needs. Although there are quite a few studies in LIS that globally report the dependency of immigrants on their personal networks, very little is known about their experiences with their informal personal networks in the contexts of their settlement in informational terms. This paper explores the information experiences of Bangladeshi immigrants in Canada consulting informal networks including broader Bangladeshi community people in pre- and post-arrival contexts.


The study uses a mixed-method approach including semi-structured interviews (n = 60) and surveys (n = 205) with Bangladeshi immigrants who arrived in Canada between the years of 1971 and 2017. Interview data were analysed thematically, and descriptive statistics are used to describe the survey data relevant to this study.


Although the overall scope of the original study is much larger, this paper features findings on the information experience derived from an analysis of the interview data with some relevant references to the survey data when deemed appropriate. This paper provides insights into the information experiences of Bangladeshi immigrants within their personal networks, including friends, family and ethnic community people. The findings of this study show that participants sometimes received discouraging, unhelpful or wrong information from their personal networks. The multiple dimensions of the information experiences of the study participants show the many consequences for their settlement lives. For some participants, settlement was particularly impacted by the concept of “information sharing fear” that emerged from the interviews. Information sharing fear relates to concerns that sharing information about the challenges faced by newcomers could be considered by potential immigrants as a kind of active “discouragement”. Participants described being sensitive to charges of envy or jealousy when they shared information related to challenges newcomers face, as friends and family see them as trying to prevent competition for social status.


The findings related to the information experiences of immigrants consulting informal networks has potential implications for research in various discipline such as LIS, migrational studies and psychology that explore the benefits of social networks in newcomers' settlement. The study also sets a ground to take a more holistic approach to the information experiences of newcomers, not just naming the sources newcomers utilize in settlement and everyday life contexts. The study also provides some future directions to comprehensively understand the culturally situated information behaviour of various immigrant groups.



The author gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Dr Paulette Rothbauer of Western University, Canada for her critical read, constructive feedback, language edits, and comments on the paper. The advice given by Dr Rothbauer has been a great help in conceptualizing the concepts in this current study. The author would also like to express his gratitude to the participants of this study, and the extraordinary cooperation and support of the Bangladeshi community organizations, without which this study would not have been possible.


Shuva, N.Z. (2021), "Information experiences of Bangladeshi immigrants in Canada", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 77 No. 2, pp. 479-500.



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