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Negotiating space and contesting boundaries : the case of Polish Roma and Polish migrants. Migration and adaptation as viewed via a social capital lens.

Polska Akademia Nauk * Komitet Badania Polonii
Publication Date
  • Hm Sociology
  • Ht Communities. Classes. Races
  • Jz International Relations
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science


Over the last two decades, globalization has resulted in an unprecedented level of migration fl ows due to the freedom of movement together with social exchange, arising from the improvement of both telecommunications, and, increasingly affordable travel. A striking feature of what has come to be termed the 'new migration', fuelled by post-Accession migrant flows, is precisely the dynamic ways in which some arriving migrants, such as the Poles, have capitalised on their transnational associations, via a most efficient 'exploitation' of existing/new social networks. On the other hand, such benefits appear to remain beyond the reach of other arriving groups, such as Polish Roma. This paper focuses on the narrativisation of the differing patterns of migratory experience of these two groups arriving to the UK, by utilising relevant elements of materials ([in]formal meetings, public events, focus groups, and interviews), from research projects and other interactions. It examines social, and other forms of capital formation, juxtaposed with their respective relationships' to the 'wider world', and in so doing, illustrates how this enables these groups to occupy various forms of 'space', respectively. The ability to negotiate, to develop, as well as maintain their own social, cultural and political spaces can be seen as a measure of how successful such groups' integration into society have been. However, a caveat needs to be noted here. Levels of success are contingent upon being able to circum-navigate a range of obstacles. Barriers faced by migrants, such as low levels of human capital, and, structural ones such as sedentarist discourses, collectively only serve to entrench further such groups’ experiences of discrimination and xenophobia. Recent indications inform that intolerance towards the 'Other' is on the rise across the EU. These are terrains well known to migrants, but more so, to Roma.

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