In the shadows: Exploring the notion of "community" for temporary foreign workers in a boomtown

Jason Foster, Alison Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid expansion of the oil sands in northern Alberta in the early 21st century led to the use of significant numbers of temporary foreign workers. These foreign workers became a part of the region's so-called "shadow population." This paper examines how the presence of foreign workers affects conceptions of community and social cohesion through the experiences of foreign workers employed in oil sands construction. The study finds foreign workers are excluded from the life of the community due to their differential exclusion, vulnerable and precarious connection to the labour market, experiences of discrimination, and conflicted transnational community identities. The paper discusses the shortcomings of community and social cohesion approaches in addressing temporary foreign workers and considers the policy limitations of a widespread temporary foreign worker program.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-190
Number of pages24
JournalCanadian Journal of Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Migrant workers
  • Multiethnic community
  • Social cohesion
  • Social exclusion


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