Polish in the Hague: The Stories of Long Term Migrants

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Karijn NIJHOFF , Research and Urban Development, Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Hague, Netherlands
Different sources estimate the Polish population of The Hague around 5% of the city’s inhabitants. Images portrayed in media and by politicians give the impression that this group is a cause of social unrest and negative stereotyping is common. In this paper the stories of migrants themselves are told. They live, work, and have started their families in The Hague. The respondents have all lived in The Hague for more than five years; most of them migrated before Poland became part of the EU. They have experienced more negative images after Poland joined the EU while their situation should have improved with the change in legal status. They narrate about their position in Dutch society, the changes they have seen, and the stereotypes they have to face. They confirm that ‘tolerance’ is no longer a key component of Dutch society, and tell about the social and economic barriers they face.

Their migration experiences and their encounters with Dutch society reveal a complex image. Coincidence, doubt and hard work are main characteristics of their histories. The in-depth interviews reveal that there was little thought of long-term planning and that choices were made rather haphazardly.