The mobility of Polish families in the West of England: Translocalism and attitudes to return

Anne White

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Abstract

Research among Poles in the UK and Ireland tends to ignore their localities of origin, while research in Poland rarely considers specific characteristics of receiving destinations. This article considers Poland and the UK together, as two ends of the same migration arc. It explores some ways in which Polish migrants to the UK experience place attachment and construct local identities, both in the UK and Poland, using a livelihood strategy approach to understand why they feel rooted in just one location per country. People often migrate from Poland because of specific conditions in their home town or village; they migrate to specific places abroad where they have friends and family; in the UK, they maintain ties with specific places in Poland, which they return to visit on holiday; and, if they return to Poland to live and work, they are likely to settle in their places of origin. In their UK location, they frequently feel a sense of local belonging even if they have little contact with the non-Polish population, and lead very Polish lives. Their UK home towns are viewed as places where they can realise livelihood aspirations developed in Poland. Locality is therefore in some contexts more important than ethnicity. Too much emphasis can be placed on the role of ethnicity and national belonging in the lives of migrants, and ‘translocal’ is sometimes a more helpful label than ‘transnational’ to describe the lifestyles of Polish labour migrants in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-32
JournalStudia Migracyjne – Przegląd Polonijny
Volume1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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