Cultural capital shaping work-life adjustment: the experience of Oromo diaspora in Minnesota

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Cultural capital shaping work-life adjustment: the experience of Oromo diaspora in Minnesota

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This qualitative study provides insight into the cultural values and work-life experiences of the Oromo in Minnesota which has also been called Little Oromia. While there is a growing interest among scholars in studies of immigrants, little is known about work-life patterns and socio-cultural trends of the Oromo in Minnesota who are one of the growing African ethnic minorities and the largest Oromo Diaspora in the U.S. A conceptual framework of cultural capital established for this study builds on the understanding of cultural wealth of ethnic minorities. The early theories of cultural capital inform my use of cultural capital as a prism to examine the experience of the Oromo in terms of their work-life adjustment. How do the Oromo ethnic immigrants introduce and deploy their cultural capital rooted in their shared values, social norms, and traditional belief systems? A focused ethnographic approach consistent with focus group, pair, and one-on-one interviews used to deal with the specific topic of the study. Analysis of the data was a continuous process from the outset of data collection. A thematic analysis resulted in a wide range of themes, which were reduced to six main categories: immigration and settlement experience, ethnic-identity and acculturation, occupational choice and advancement, employment experience, compatibility of cultural capital and work values, and work-family-community. The study explored the values and cultural wealth of the community. Despite the challenges and barriers, the Oromo appear to be placing more emphasis on building on their cultural assets. The trajectories of their immigration and shared experience are similar with the experience of African-born immigrants in many ways. Yet a close look at their unique experience before and after immigration indicates the extent to which they vary from other ethnic groups. Conclusions and implications of the study were drawn for emerging areas that need to be further researched in the fields of organizational and human resource development. This study claims to be the first of its kind in illuminating the un-researched impact of cultural capital of Oromo immigrants on their work-life. Finding from this study seek to inform cross-cultural services, career counseling, community integration and work force development, organization and human resource development.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2013. Advisor: Dr. Rosemarie J. Park. Major: Work and Human Resource Education. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 189 pages, appendices I-III.

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Gemechu, Tinsae. (2013). Cultural capital shaping work-life adjustment: the experience of Oromo diaspora in Minnesota. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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