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Narratives of economic migration. The case of young, well-qualified Poles and Spaniards in the UK

Narratives of economic migration. The case of young, well-qualified Poles and Spaniards in the UK
Narratives of economic migration. The case of young, well-qualified Poles and Spaniards in the UK
This thesis investigates the dynamics, motivations and external factors influencing the migration trajectories of 22 young, well-qualified Polish and Spanish migrants in the South of England. The study is among the first ones researching the current movement of people from Spain to the UK in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007/08, and comparing it to post-EU-accession migration from Eastern Europe.

The methodology involves semi-structured, autobiographical interviews focusing on participants’ migration experiences, with a particular focus on their professional ambitions in the UK labour market.

The findings of the study demonstrate how both groups interpret emigration as an act of establishing a certain form of normality, be it social, economic or individual. Overall, however, the narratives reveal differences that run along the lines of nationality. In the Polish narratives in particular, a strong focus on the immediate present becomes evident. The present life in the UK, no matter how challenging, is almost always compared to a past in Poland that is retrospectively defined as ‘abnormal’. Participants create a discourse of escape that is then used to make sense of an often ‘not ideal’ present in which participants, despite being university educated, spend prolonged periods of time in low-level jobs.

The Spanish narratives, on the other hand, tend to be highly politicised and participants display a strong sense of individualisation and political anger. Most narratives are characterised by an ‘ideology of progress’. Spain is referred to as a space of personal and professional stagnation, while time spent in the UK is seen as a conscious investment in human capital such as English skills. The aim of this investment is the establishment of a certain socio-economic status in the future, and menial jobs in the UK are acceptable as long as participants work towards that goal.

In summary, the thesis analyses how both groups react to social and economic changes in times of a global economic crisis, and describes how participants tend to meet unknown circumstances with a known set of behavioural dispositions.
Jendrissek, Dan
b6868a99-ad74-4b0b-8da8-d615a647c236
Jendrissek, Dan
b6868a99-ad74-4b0b-8da8-d615a647c236
Stevenson, Patrick
7b8878de-4a5b-4eaf-88d2-034d9041f41d

Jendrissek, Dan (2014) Narratives of economic migration. The case of young, well-qualified Poles and Spaniards in the UK. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 265pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis investigates the dynamics, motivations and external factors influencing the migration trajectories of 22 young, well-qualified Polish and Spanish migrants in the South of England. The study is among the first ones researching the current movement of people from Spain to the UK in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007/08, and comparing it to post-EU-accession migration from Eastern Europe.

The methodology involves semi-structured, autobiographical interviews focusing on participants’ migration experiences, with a particular focus on their professional ambitions in the UK labour market.

The findings of the study demonstrate how both groups interpret emigration as an act of establishing a certain form of normality, be it social, economic or individual. Overall, however, the narratives reveal differences that run along the lines of nationality. In the Polish narratives in particular, a strong focus on the immediate present becomes evident. The present life in the UK, no matter how challenging, is almost always compared to a past in Poland that is retrospectively defined as ‘abnormal’. Participants create a discourse of escape that is then used to make sense of an often ‘not ideal’ present in which participants, despite being university educated, spend prolonged periods of time in low-level jobs.

The Spanish narratives, on the other hand, tend to be highly politicised and participants display a strong sense of individualisation and political anger. Most narratives are characterised by an ‘ideology of progress’. Spain is referred to as a space of personal and professional stagnation, while time spent in the UK is seen as a conscious investment in human capital such as English skills. The aim of this investment is the establishment of a certain socio-economic status in the future, and menial jobs in the UK are acceptable as long as participants work towards that goal.

In summary, the thesis analyses how both groups react to social and economic changes in times of a global economic crisis, and describes how participants tend to meet unknown circumstances with a known set of behavioural dispositions.

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More information

Published date: 1 February 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Modern Languages

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 366444
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366444
PURE UUID: 6a6cb4bb-c034-47cd-8927-09eec5329acf

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Date deposited: 15 Jul 2014 11:02
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 02:13

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