The lived experience of economic migration in the narratives of migrants from post-communist Poland to Britain
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AbstractThis thesis examines the lived experience of economic migration of young and degree level educated migrants from Poland to Britain. The main aim is to explore how the participants of economic migration within the borders of the European Union experience migrating. The special feature of this migration is the fact that they leave a postcommunist country and come to a country with a well established capitalist economy and long-standing democracy. The particular questions are: how these migrants construct their experience of migrating, are they faced with any problems while doing it, and if so - how do they resolve them? The data comes from twenty-two semi-structured interviews with migrants educated to degree level who were residents and worked in one of the regions of England at a professional level or below their qualifications (manual or simple clerical work). The research utilises the critical discourse analysis perspective; the data is approached with analysis focused on linguistic choices (lexical and grammatical) evident in the respondents’ statements. This kind of analysis enables observation and in-depth interpretation of the way experiences of migrating are constructed. The migrants’ narratives were full of discursive struggle while constructing their experience of migrating. Firstly, the interviewees made an effort to present their migration as rational. Secondly, they were trying to rationalise their financial needs to refute accusations of greed for money. Thirdly, the underemployed migrants justified their employment choices by distancing themselves from work below that which they were qualified for. Fourthly, the interviewees were making an attempt to withdraw from a multicultural community by constructing the negative Other. Exploring lived experience of living and working abroad reveals competitive discourses and ways of coping with ambivalence. Understanding these discursive practices requires knowledge of their beliefs and values that underpin the discourses available in the Polish postcommunist society. Overall, the narratives overflowed with dilemmas that showed this migration as more complicated on an individual level than the official discourse of free movement of people in the EU suggests. This thesis captures the migrants’ lived experience within one year after the EU enlargement; it reflects on the narratives being shaped when migrants were given the opportunity to introduce the new discourses on migration or re-think the old ones as a result of new macro-processes in the European Union. This research complements other studies exploring migrants’ voices in search of insight into what their experiences were and how they made sense out of them. However, with the methodology used, it focuses more on uncovering the struggle over arguments available to build their stories. It offers explanation to their discursive practices by analysing them against the discourses as being products of postcommunism. The study’s results may shed more light on recent processes within this group of migrants and also inform institutional policy and practice about problems affecting members of this group, reported in this thesis.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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