670.3 Dignity, happiness and being able to live a ‘normal life' – An examination of post-accession Polish migrants' autobiographical transnational fields

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:07 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Derek MCGHEE , Sociology & Social Policy, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
This paper examines data from a qualitative study of post-accession Polish migrants living in the UK. We examine the articulation and implications of our interviewees’ comparisons between their lives in the UK and their recollections of what their lives were like in Poland. These comparisons are animated by 'paired', autobiographical comparisons between ‘material deprivations’ in Poland relative to their experiences of ‘material gratification’ in the UK. In the paper we examine themes from our interviews such as ‘dignity’, ‘normality’, ‘happiness’ and the ‘affordability’ and ‘ease’ of life in the UK (compared to Poland). By so doing we examine what Robin Cohen (following Soysal) calls the new typography of practices that we suggest have emerged as a result of post-accession Polish migration to the UK. We focus on the discursive practices that define what Habib calls migrants’ continuing relationship with their ‘homeland’. We conceptualize this, following Levitt and Schiller, as a transnational autobiographical field. We suggest that the discursive practices in this field and the contradictory emotions evoked in and by them are performative devices that sustain their ‘home-making’ practices in the UK but also and make problematic their return to Poland.