Should I Stay or Should I Go? Polish Migrants Settlement Practices in the UK, a Decade after Accession

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Emilia PIĘTKA-NYKAZA, University of West of Scotland, United Kingdom
While existing research into post accession Polish migration indicates that migration of Poles to the UK is motivated by a desire to improve their quality of life or the life of their families, little is known about how they evaluate or assess the quality of their life since their arrival in the UK, and how this affects their decisions about settlement. Rather than migration being analyzed as single event driven by migrants’ desires and expectations, this study recognized migration as process that comprise of set of social practices where migrants’ decisions about staying or returning are subject to ongoing considerations that change over time. Therefore, this paper will discuss the nature of Polish migrants considerations, actions and experiences involved in their settlement practices.

The central concern of this study is to explore the key drivers and events that have an impact on Polish migrants’ decision to stay, their actual settlement practices and migration plans. Drawing from the analysis of 24 semi-structured interviews with Polish migrants in Glasgow and Edinburgh, this study indicates that recently arrived Polish migrants go through different stages of the settling process which does not necessarily result in their final decision about staying or returning. The findings of this study indicates that migrants’ age at the time of arrival in Scotland, life-cycle stages and feelings of economic and social security are as significant for understanding their settlement practices. It also indicates that despite Polish migrants reflections and future plans were predominately tied up with their country of residence, they remained ambivalent about their settlement intensions and highlighted that dichotomous distinction between intention to stay or return did not explained fully their experiences following migration.