Amber Walker

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Victor Satzewich




Utilizing a social constructionist approach to social problems, and drawing from the public policy's insights into agenda-setting dynamics, this thesis examines the social construction of foreign credential recognition as a social problem in Canada, and the factors that led to the elevation of this issue onto the federal government's policy agenda in 2001 - some twenty years after it was initially claimed to be a troublesome condition. More specifically, this study explores how the claims-making activities of various stakeholders involved in the foreign credential recognition debate came to define the issue as a social problem, and how those activities transformed this social problem into a policy solution worthy of widespread public and political attention. While the historical analysis of federal policy documents provide background and context to the development of foreign credential recognition as a social problem, interviews with eighteen stakeholders from the policy community contribute to an in-depth understanding of the claims-making dynamics involved in the foreign credential recognition debate.

Findings from this thesis reveal that while foreign credential recognition was largely constructed around humanitarian concerns in the 1980's, claims-makers redefined the issue as a promising economic policy tool with the potential to benefit the country as a whole from the 1990's onward. This definitional shift, largely constructed by strategic and innovative organizational sponsors on behalf of immigrant victims, garnered foreign credential recognition increased public and political attention based on its appeal to neoliberal goals in the context of a globalizing knowledge economy. Foreign credential recognition was elevated onto the federal government's policy agenda in 2001 as a consequence of the convergence of widespread concerns over Canada's economic competitiveness and prosperity in the global economy, the claims-making activities of experienced and committed organizational sponsors, public awareness of and support for the issue, and political receptivity to economically promising policy solutions.

McMaster University Library

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