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Beyond openness and prejudice: The consequences of migrant encounters with difference

Abstract

This article investigates the consequences of migrant encounters with difference in terms of ethnicity, religion, class, social status, sexuality and gender. While the notion of encounter has attracted much academic attention, in particular with regard to multiculture, social diversity and the challenge of living with difference, many of these debates tend to, oddly enough, overlook migrant populations. Furthermore, although they acknowledge that significant numbers of migrants to diverse societies such as the UK originate from much less diverse communities, they rarely reflect on the intricacies of production of difference in these respective places. Recognising these limitations, this article outlines the consequences of encounters with difference in the context of migration from Poland (a relatively homogeneous postcommunist society) to the UK (a ‘superdiverse’ post-colonial society). The article draws upon extensive empirical material collected among Polish post-2004 migrants to the Northern English city of Leeds. It establishes that migrant encounters result in development, revision or change of values and attitudes towards difference. This may involve a range of personal stances including favourable and prejudiced attitudes as well as, most likely, ‘complicated’ and ‘in-between’ responses.
Enlighten – Research publications by members of the University of Glasgow
http://eprints.gla.ac.uk
Gawlewicz, A. (2016) Beyond openness and prejudice: the consequences
of migrant encounters with difference. Environment and Planning .A
Copyright © 2015 The Author
This is the accepted version.
Published version: 10.1177/0308518X15605836
http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/109379/
Deposited on: 2 September 2015
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Beyond openness and prejudice: The consequences of migrant encounters with difference
Abstract
This article investigates the consequences of migrant encounters with difference in terms of
ethnicity, religion, class, social status, sexuality and gender. While the notion of encounter
has attracted much academic attention, in particular with regard to multiculture, social
diversity and the challenge of living with difference, many of these debates tend to, oddly
enough, overlook migrant populations. Furthermore, although they acknowledge that
significant numbers of migrants to diverse societies such as the UK originate from much less
diverse communities, they rarely reflect on the intricacies of production of difference in
these respective places. Recognising these limitations, this article outlines the consequences
of encounters with difference in the context of migration from Poland (a relatively
homogeneous postcommunist society) to the UK (a ‘superdiverse’ postcolonial society). The
article draws upon extensive empirical material collected among Polish post-2004 migrants
to the Northern English city of Leeds. It establishes that migrant encounters result in
development, revision or change of values and attitudes towards difference. This may
involve a range of personal stances including favourable and prejudiced attitudes as well as,
most likely, ‘complicated’ and ‘in-between’ responses.
Introduction
Given the recent increase in East-West migration in Europe, the capacity of migrants to live
with difference becomes a crucial issue for European societies and policy makers. Arguably,
these large-scale migrations have been followed by encounters with ‘the unfamiliar’ or ‘the
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other’ and have impacted socially, culturally and emotionally on the lives of many migrants.
The notion of encounter has recently reinvigorated academic discussions on multiculture,
social diversity and the challenge of how to ‘live with difference’ (e.g. Hemming, 2011;
Koefoed and Simonsen, 2011, 2012; Leitner, 2011; Matejskova and Leitner, 2011; Neal et al.,
2013; Valentine, 2008; Valentine and Sadgrove, 2012; Wessendorf, 2013; Wilson, 2013).
However, many of these debates tend to, oddly enough, overlook migrant populations and
what they bring to encounters. Furthermore, although it is acknowledged that significant
numbers of migrants to diverse societies such as the UK frequently originate from much less
diverse communities, there is relatively little consideration of how and why difference is
understood in these places. In response, in this article I outline the consequences of migrant
encounters with difference in terms of ethnicity, religion, class, social status, sexuality and
gender. In doing so, I argue that migrant encounters significantly contribute to the broad
body of the encounter literature and extend our understanding of the (trans)formative
nature of meaningful contact with difference (cf. Valentine, 2008).
Crucially, I explore these issues by looking at post-2004 migration from Poland to the
UK. In 2004 eight Central and Eastern European countries entered the European Union
(Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). One
consequence of this was a drastic rise in international mobility along the East-West axis, with
the largest migration flow observed between Poland and the UK (Black et al., 2010). While
the extent of Polish migration to the UK is difficult to measure (Harris et al., 2012), according
to the 2011 Census data over half a million Poles lived there early 2010s (ONS, 2011). The
prominence of the Polish minority is further reflected in Polish being the second most
spoken language after English in England and Wales (ONS, 2013) and Polish women opening
the rank of non-UK-born women giving birth in the UK (ONS, 2012).
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This migratory context is also important given the profoundly different geo-historical
positionalities of Poland and the UK. Despite a longstanding history of diversity prior to
World War II, Poland has become relatively homogeneous in terms of ethnicity, nationality
and religion in the aftermath of the war 1939-1945 and the communist regime 1945-1989
(Davies, 1981). This has been broadly argued to impact on distinctive understandings of
sameness and difference within Polish society (Marciniak, 2009; Owczarzak, 2009). On the
other hand, the UK is a ‘superdiverse’ post-colonial state with an uninterrupted history of
immigration throughout 20th and early 21st century (Vertovec, 2007). It embraces broad
representations of ethnicities, nationalities, religions, languages, social classes and complex
intersections of these categories. Against this backdrop, it has been suggested that for many
Polish migrants to heterogeneous societies such as the UK, the act of migration is followed
by meaningful encounters with increased cultural diversity (Jordan, 2006). These
experiences are potentially of great importance for the understanding of the effects of
migrant encounters with difference. As such, they are illustrative of the challenges for living
with diversity in Europe.
However, while there is substantial literature on various aspects of everyday lives of
Central and Eastern European migrants (including Poles), less has been said about how they
respond to diversity and difference in terms of ethnicity, religion, class, social status,
sexuality and gender. Even though several researchers of East European migration suggest
that understandings of these notions are prone to evolve post-migration (see e.g. Cook et
al., 2011a, b; Datta, 2009a, b; Fox, 2013; McDowell et al., 2007; Siara, 2009), more
comprehensive research is necessary to holistically explore how and why values and
attitudes towards difference develop or change through sustained contact with ‘the
unfamiliar’ or ‘the other’. In particular, studies situated within geographies of encounter
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paradigm (Valentine, 2008) and aiming for investigating migrant values and attitudes are
likely to shed more light onto what happens when people from less diverse societies such as
Poland face ‘superdiversity’ (Vertovec, 2002) in the context of migration.
This article draws upon extensive empirical material collected for a study designed to
specifically address these issues (author). It builds upon multiple narrative interviews with a
group of Polish post-2004 migrants to the diverse UK city of Leeds (Piekut et al., 2012). I
begin the article by briefly reflecting on the debate around the ‘capacity to live with
difference’ that has recently (re-)emerged within the geographies of encounter literature.
Then, I critically engage with the research that has implicitly looked at migrant encounters
through, for instance, investigating labour migrants’ workplace experiences or
conceptualisations of nationality and ethnicity. This is followed by a discussion of the
methodologies that I employed. Finally, I explore the consequences of Polish migrants’
encounters with difference by unpacking research participants’ responses including
favourable and prejudiced attitudes as well as a range of ‘complicated’ and contextualised
stances towards difference.
Geographies of encounter and the ‘capacity to live with difference
Although the concept of encounter dates back to sociological research of the 1960s, it rather
owes its recognition to contemporary geographers who from the early 2000s onwards have
increasingly utilised it in the debates around social diversity, difference and multiculture. The
earlier contributions to the geographies of encounter literature are largely situated within
the urban context and draw attention to the importance of the everyday city experience
(e.g. Binnie et al., 2007; Watson, 2009). Here, observation-based studies link mundane
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interactions with the changing perceptions of otherness (Laurier and Philo, 2006; Wilson,
2011). While they remain crucial in understanding the significance of conviviality and urban
etiquette (Nowicka and Vertovec, 2014), they have been suggested to imply that “low-level
sociality and banal everyday civilities have enduring effects” (Valentine and Sadgrove, 2012:
2050). It has been, indeed, acknowledged that much of urban contact between people and
groups hardly count as encounter as it tends to be momentary and insignificant (Amin, 2002;
Valentine, 2008).
In her reflections on geographies of encounter, Valentine (2008) argues that a significant
part of the literature on cosmopolitanism and urban citizenship romanticizes public
interactions and is based on an assumption that contact with difference translates into
respect or greater openness towards diversity. In criticising this assumption, she explains
that tolerance of others performed in civil encounters in public spaces is not the same as
personal respect for various forms of difference. Inspired by the seminal work of Allport and
his discussion of the contact hypothesis (1979 [1954]), Valentine (2008) explicates that
rather than fleeting encounters, the so called meaningful encounters have a capacity to
challenge and transform individual values and attitudes. Such encounters are at heart of this
article.
A crucial space for meaningful interactions with difference seems to be what Amin
(2002) has termed ‘micro-publics’ and recognised as workplace, schools, youth centres,
sports clubs and other places of association. Following this understanding, social scientists
have increasingly looked at ‘sites of encounters’ including neighbourhoods, schools and
university campuses as well as means of transport (Andersson et al., 2012; Hemming, 2011;
Leitner, 2011; Matejskova and Leitner, 2011; Watson, 2009; Wessendorf, 2013; Wilson,
2011). However, some significant spaces of contact with difference such as family and home,
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workplace or leisure spaces although addressed in some publications (e.g. Cook et al.,
2011b; Harris and Valentine, forthcoming; Schuermans, 2013; Valentine et al., 2014; Wilson,
2013) - remain underexplored and require more scholarly attention, in particular with regard
to migrants.
It is important to note that difference in terms of ethnicity, nationality, religion, class,
social status, sexuality and gender has been central to geographies of encounter. Various
studies illustrate that the presence of difference or minority groups initiates negotiations of
sameness and otherness, inclusion and exclusion (Amin, 2002). For instance, by looking into
how hetero-normative parishioners and clergy of New York Episcopalian churches narrate
their encounters with the city’s LGBTQ population, Andersson et al. (2011) investigated
tensions between religion and sexuality. Specifically, they explored how certain places (e.g.
churches) might serve as spaces of both inclusionary and exclusionary practices.
Importantly, in the geography literature personal encounters are frequently linked with
the broader processes involving the development or change of values and attitudes towards
difference. In a study of contact between Russian immigrants and local German residents in
Eastern Berlin, Matejskova and Leitner (2011) notice that fleeting interactions between the
representatives of both groups may reinforce pre-existing stereotypes about national or
ethnic otherness. On the other hand, collaboration is likely to generate closer and more
meaningful encounters that engender empathy and positive attitudes towards difference.
Interestingly, favourable attitudes towards individual immigrants are rarely scaled up to the
whole group. This resonates with Valentine’s (2008: 332) argument that “in the context of
negative encounters minority individuals are perceived to represent members of a wider
social group, but in positive encounters minority individuals tend to be read only as
individuals”. In other words, negative encounters are more likely to change people’s
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opinions about a whole minority group for the worse, than positive encounters for the
better.
As critically focused as it is, this literature has been nonetheless argued to predominantly
concentrate on ‘here’ and ‘now’ of encounters (Valentine and Sadgrove, 2012). Although a
few authors (e.g. Valentine and Sadgrove, 2012) propose a processual approach to the study
of encounters, and argue that they stretch beyond the present to include the past and the
future, further research is needed to understand the consequences of encounters in terms
of evolving values, attitudes and behaviour. In particular, more insights are necessary with
regard to how positive or negative attitudes are developed, challenged or reinforced
through meaningful interactions that take place in changing geo-historical and national
contexts (Valentine et al., 2015).
Migrant encounters
Although migrants are still less visible in debates in geography on how to live with diversity,
migrant values and attitudes towards difference have been addressed by a number of
migration scholars, including the researchers of Eastern European and Polish migration. Siara
(2009), for example, focused on how users of online discussion platforms for Polish migrants
to the UK negotiated values and norms in relation to gender and ethnicity. She established
that while a number of respondents referred to the patriarchal model of gender roles, others
criticized such expectations and called for equality. She also found that although some users
expressed prejudiced attitudes towards mixed race and/or inter-faith relationships, others
produced a discourse of ethnic tolerance and openness towards difference. The study
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demonstrates that the meaning of gender or ethnicity “may be heavily contested once living
in a multicultural environment” (Siara 2009: 183).
In a similar vein, Datta (2009b) noticed that ideas of ethnicity, nationhood and gender
were constantly reshaped by Polish construction workers in London, UK. In her own words,
“earlier perceptions of difference get translated and transformed (...) as new attitudes
towards others are formed in new places, under different structures of power” (2009b: 139).
The changing nature of migrant values and attitudes towards difference is further implied by
other studies of migration experience and transnational identities (e.g. Burrell, 2009; Ryan,
2010; White, 2010).
While there seems to be an ongoing discussion about how migrant understandings of
sameness and difference are shaped through international mobility, migrant interactions
with embodied difference are addressed less. In a study of neighbourhood and workplace
encounters of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe to the UK, Cook et al. (2011b) note
that for many ‘newcomers’ everyday proximity with difference does not open up spaces for
engagement and break down prejudice or barriers of integration. Largely superficial, as the
authors claim, “rubbing-along-together does not necessarily equate to good relations” (Cook
et al., 2011b: 737) between the migrants and host communities which only ‘tolerate’ each
other. Elsewhere Cook at al. (2011a) mention, however, that although for some migrants
contact with social diversity contributes to the development or reinforcement of prejudice,
for others the experience of multiculture is not only positive, but also personally enriching.
Therefore, migrants (and Central and Eastern European migrants in particular) as well as
their experiences in receiving societies cannot be conceptualised in homogeneous terms.
Significantly, in the context of East-West migration, the interplay between bodily
encounters and unfavourable and hostile attitudes towards ethnic, national or religious
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difference appears to gain a growing attention (Fox, 2013; McDowell, 2008, 2009; McDowell
et al., 2007; Moroşanu and Fox, 2013; Parutis, 2011). It is important to acknowledge here,
however, that these debates draw upon labour migration and, in contrast to non-migrant
geographies of encounter, tend to investigate work-related interactions rather than wider
relationships with difference. Labour migrants who, for various reasons (e.g. poor language
skills), work below their actual qualifications have been reported to feel disadvantaged,
devalued and deskilled in the UK (Currie, 2008). These sentiments - alongside the precarious
positionality of some economic migrants have been claimed to contribute to the
development of less tolerant or racist attitudes towards difference (Cook et al., 2011a;
McDowell, 2009; McDowell et al., 2007). While the arguably insecure or underprivileged
position of some labour migrants might fuel negative perceptions of difference, it is crucial
not to overlook the influence of other circumstances on the development of unfavourable
attitudes towards the ethnic, national or religious Other. It has been, indeed, suggested that
such attitudes may be affected by the conceptualization of whiteness and white privilege
(Fox, 2013; McDowell, 2009; Parutis, 2011).
Notwithstanding the role the migration literature plays in exploring migrant
understandings of, and interactions with difference, it raises further issues. First of all, by
analogy to the critique of geography of encounter literature (Valentine and Sadgrove, 2012),
many writings into migrant perceptions of ‘the different’, seem to overestimate the effects
of fleeting encounters and rarely include broader discussion on the consequences of
meaningful contact. Also, given the prominence of the literature that specifically looks at
labour migration and the workplace, more attention needs to be paid into how, when and in
what circumstances encounters with diversity affect non-labour migrants’ values and
attitudes. Polish migrants in the UK are, for example, a highly diverse cohort in terms of
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views, beliefs and approaches towards their own migration (Garapich, 2007). This suggest
that through meaningful encounters with diversity they may possibly develop a wide range
of stances towards difference beyond hostile and prejudiced attitudes. This is, however, less
discussed as fewer studies holistically focus on diverse migrant samples and diverse
responses towards embodied difference. Finally, migratory context needs to be more
evident in researching meaningful migrant encounters. While the fact that many migrants to
heterogeneous societies (such as the UK) come from less diverse communities is frequently
acknowledged, less attention is paid into how certain migrant attitudes are possibly
embedded in broader geo-historical and culture-specific understandings of difference. In this
article, I address these gaps and extend the existing literature on migration experience, and
the prevailing effects of migrant encounters with diversity and difference.
Study outline
This article draws upon 14 case studies each involving one post-2004 Polish migrant to
Leeds, UK. As part of each case, I conducted multiple narrative interviews (at least two) with
migrants as well as asked them to produce audio-diaries and complete a supplementary
survey. In is important to stress, however, that in this article I only draw upon the interviews
(n=32). This is because the audio-diary method generated predominantly general narratives
about diversity and belonging (which I explore elsewhere, see author) and the survey was
used to identify themes for interviews and to ensure that I did not miss any relevant
demographic characteristics. The interviews, conducted between mid-2011 and mid-2012,
lasted between 70 and 180 minutes and explored the nature of encounters with difference
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prior to and after moving from Poland to the UK. As such, they explicitly addressed the
consequences of migrant encounters.
In recruiting research participants, I was seeking people of various socio-economic
backgrounds and diverse stances towards difference. With regard to stances, I strove to
gather a group of people whose narratives disclosed a broad spectrum of responses to
difference. With regard to participants’ backgrounds, I tried to diversify the sample in terms
of age, gender, family/marital status, education, occupation, religion/belief and length of
stay in the UK. Given the size of the sample, I prioritized age (participants’ ages varied
between 21 and 51), gender (nine women and five men) and length of stay in the UK
(arrivals between 2004 and 2011). While ‘older’ participants expressed more prejudiced
views compered to ‘younger’ participants, the sample is too small to claim any effect of age
on the data. Gender did not seem to influence participants’ attitudes as both men and
women expressed a range of stances towards difference. On the other hand, length of stay
in the UK appeared to impact on participants’ capacity to reflect on their lived experience.
With the exception of one participant, who had lived in the UK for several months at the
time of the first interview, all had spent there at least a couple of years (five years on
average). They were, therefore, able to recall many examples of encounters with diversity
and elaborate on how their ideas of difference developed or changed through migration.
Acknowledging that “people construct identities (however multiple, intersecting and
changing) by locating themselves or being located within a repertoire of emplotted stories
(Somers and Gibson, 1998: 38-39), I employed narrative analysis to explore the empirical
material that I collected. Narratives are social products created from, within or against
diverse culturally and historically specific stories and contexts which delimit what can be said
and what shall count as meaningful or nonsensical (Maynes et al., 2008). By employing
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narrative analysis I was able to explore relationships, interconnections and socially
constructed understandings that commonly occur within narrative accounts.
Given the broadly debated significance of positionality for the research process (Kim,
2012), I carefully considered the influence of my position on the collected data (i.e. Polish
migrant researcher studying migrants of the same ethno-linguistic background). I found it
particularly consequential with regard to the language research participants employed to
refer to difference and assumptions about shared understandings of otherness they made
(for details see author). The implication of this intricate positionality was also the collection
of data in Polish and a necessity to translate it into English for dissemination. Here, the main
challenge involved maintaining the comparability of meanings between the original
utterance and the translated piece (author).
I chose Leeds as a research site because it offers a range of possibilities of encounters
with difference alongside the axes of ethnicity, religion, class, social status, sexuality and
gender (Piekut et al., 2012). Indeed, the city has a proportion of minority ethnic population
close to the national average (15% against 14% in England according to the 2011 Census). Its
significant Pakistani and British Pakistani community together with other South East Asian
groups constitute over a half of the city’s non-White population (according to the 2011
Census). In addition, although Leeds represents a successful transition from an industrial city
into the post-industrial metropolitan area of relative prosperity, it nonetheless embraces
areas of deprivation and exclusion shaped by ethnic and class dynamics as well as
immigration (Stillwell and Phillips, 2006).
All of the quotations I explore in this article are taken from my translated transcriptions
of the interviews with Polish migrants. I use three ellipsis dots in brackets to indicate that a
small section of text has been removed to facilitate readability. I also provide clarifying
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pieces of information in square brackets. The names I use in the article are all pseudonyms
to ensure participants’ anonymity.
The consequences of migrant encounters
While, unsurprisingly, some day-to-day encounters with difference explored in this study
remained fleeting (and thus hardly disrupting personal values and attitudes), many
interactions were argued by the research participants to be meaningful (Valentine, 2008). As
such, they resulted in the development, revision or change of values and attitudes towards
difference. This involved a range of personal stances from strong negative prejudice, through
‘complicated’, contextualised and/or situated responses, to acceptance, familiarity and
engagement.
Crucially, although in the interviews research participants were asked to elaborate on
their values and attitudes towards various axes of difference, ethnicity, religion and sexuality
(non-whiteness, non-Christian religions and non-heteronormativity in particular) were more
extensively discussed than class, social status and gender. The preoccupation of respondents
with these axes of difference should be understood against the backdrop of what is socially
constructed as difference in the Polish context. Non-white skin colour, for example, has been
suggested to draw increased attention of Polish migrants due to the relative whiteness of
the Polish society (Ryan, 2010). The prominent role of Catholicism in Poland, as well as its
capacity to shape understandings of sexuality, has been also broadly acknowledged
(Borowik, 1996; Marody and Mandes, 2005).
In the three sub-sections below, I explore examples of the consequences of migrant
encounters with difference which are illustrative of the broader findings of the study. While
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some research participants expressed either favourable or unfavourable attitudes (this is
explored in the first two sub-sections), the majority of participants negotiated highly
contextualised and/or fluid stances (discussed in the last sub-section). This draws attention
to the predominance of complex, or perhaps ‘complicated’, responses towards difference.
Towards familiarity and engagement with difference
While somewhat underappreciated in the broad body of the encounter literature, positive
effects of encounters with difference were narrated by a number of Polish migrants to
Leeds. Julia, for example, a part-time teacher of English as a foreign language who specialises
in teaching adults, extensively reflected on her encounters with Muslim women of various
nationalities.
I developed my attitudes here [in the UK]. (…) I faced a huge diversity
here. Positive, they [her feelings] are very positive especially towards
women Muslim women. Their care for family, their role in family. (…) I
feel so (…) enriched with experience with these people. (…) During these
five years I met so many new people, from so many unfamiliar
countries. I know a lot about Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran now. (…) I
wouldn’t be able to learn this stuff [in Poland]. So, it’s great I met that
many people.
Julia (female, aged 28, arrived to the UK in 2006)
In the interviews, Julia stressed that repetitive and intense interactions with female Muslim
students enabled her to become familiar with Islamic traditions. As many participants in this
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study, she had never met a Muslim person while she had lived in Poland and found such
encounters particularly formative in terms of understanding of Muslim communities in the
UK and more broadly. Furthermore, it was through such encounters that she developed
many favourable attitudes as well as strong willingness to engage with difference on a daily
basis.
Similarly to the case of Julia, Lena, a charity worker, admitted becoming familiar with
ethno-national and religious difference through her workplace encounters.
Generally speaking, I have now a greater understanding of people from
various religious and cultural groups for example people from Pakistan
or India. (…) Also, people from Africa. I worked with such people… Apart
from the fact they were from different countries, they had various
problems. For example, I worked with people who looked for jobs or
people who were refugees. (…) Being among them made me understand
why they (…) behaved in certain ways and where it came from and why
they had certain opinions.
Lena (female, aged 29, arrived to the UK in 2005)
Julia’s and Lena’s narratives suggest that both respondents developed favourable attitudes
as a consequence of encountering difference. Importantly, in both cases the majority of
these encounters were work-related. Migrant workplace encounters have been so far largely
conceptualized in terms of prejudiced and even racist attitudes (Cook et al., 2011a;
McDowell, 2009; McDowell et al., 2007). This resonates with a broader tendency in the
literature to look into exclusion and negative experiences of otherness at work (Harris and
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Valentine, forthcoming). Against this backdrop, less attention has been paid to favourable
attitudes towards the ethnic, national or religious Others that are shaped through the
experience of working in diverse environments. Julia’s and Lena’s workplace encounters are
very significant in this respect and illustrate that greater understanding of difference, sense
of familiarity and engagement with diversity are as well likely to be the consequences of
migrant encounters.
Becoming prejudiced
While the cases of Julia and Lena demonstrate that some migrants develop favourable
attitudes towards difference, the case of Irena and Piotr may suggest otherwise. Due to her
much poorer English, Irena has been forced to work below her skills ever since she arrived to
the UK. At the time of the fieldwork, she worked in a popular Leeds restaurant employing
people of various ethno-national backgrounds. This everyday contact with difference
resulted in very strong negative prejudice towards Black people and the revision of her
‘ambivalent’ attitude pre-migration.
I’ve become a racist when I came to England. I’d never been a racist
before - I’d always been compassionate towards Black inhabitants of the
globe. Have you ever seen this TV series “Roots”? It was about Kunta
Kinte and his life history. (…) So, this TV series used to be very popular
and everybody in Poland was so compassionate towards Black people. I
was the same! (…) Now I work with Black people and I observe [them]
believe me, I think that some people should stand there with a whip and
supervise this whoever person who cannot work. They cannot work. (…)
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There are two brothers in my restaurant (…) X. is a cook. He’s amazing.
(…) Hard-working, great guy. Whereas Y. is just a layabout. When I see
that he does nothing and takes money for it, I’m just furious. So,
generally, I cannot tell everybodys like this. (…) But, in the majority of
cases - they [Black people] unfortunately don’t work. And, sometimes I
have the impression that they believe they should be protected in this
country due to the fact that theyre Black. Sometimes I also feel our
managers are afraid to tell them something, so as they’re not accused of
racism.
Irena (female, aged 50, arrived to the UK in 2008)
Throughout the interviews Irena was strongly convinced her attitude towards Black people
pre-migration was appropriate and far from racist. This attitude, that could be described as
benevolent racism (Whitley and Kite, 2009), was based on the feeling of compassion which
was reinforced by TV series, films and literature openly exoticizing difference. While in the
quote above she mentions one title only, in the interviews she referred to books and films
telling stories of ‘good’ or ‘oppressed’ Black characters (e.g. ‘Uncle’s Tom Cabin’ by Harriet
Beecher Stowe). Irena’s subsequent move to the UK and a meaningful encounter with Black
people at work completely redefined her ideas and attitudes and made her aware of being
racist. Interestingly, this prejudiced attitude seems embedded in Irena’s personal work ethic
which she misconceives as a feature dependant on racial belonging.
A similar set of racist views was expressed by Piotr, a factory worker. Likewise Irena, in
the interviews Piotr was quite explicit about becoming prejudiced post-migration as a
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consequence of intense, and mostly work-related, encounters with ethnic and national
difference.
Have I changed? I guess, I have a different approach to other nations
and ethnicities Black people for example. You know, I’ve been working
under Chinese people for the last six months. And, I’m truly convinced
that they exploit people much more than Pakistanis. I consider
Pakistanis quite lazy. And, Chinese people believe me they are so
greedy. (…) I feel I couldn’t live with a Black person in the same house.
(…) And, I also wouldn’t like to live with Pakistanis. I could live with
English people. So, this is influenced by the skin colour, I guess.
Although, English people are also slovenly and I really like order.
Piotr (male, aged 40, arrived to the UK in 2004)
It is important to note here that the majority of positions Irena and Piotr held after moving
to the UK were low-skilled, including production-line work or cleaning, and frequently below
their actual qualifications. Although labour migrant identities and attitudes are clearly
differentiated by age, gender, skills, skin colour and class (McDowell, 2008), low-skilled
migrants in the UK have been argued to use stereotypical assumptions about embodied
attributes of their co-workers (McDowell et al., 2007). In the context of their precarious
positions, feelings of being disadvantaged or devalued (e.g. Currie, 2008) as well as
competition for economic resources, this often results in new and deeper divisions among
various groups of workers as well as racial, religious or other prejudices (Cook et al., 2011a,
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2011b; Fox, 2013; McDowell et al., 2007; Parutis, 2011). Furthermore, such attitudes often
mobilise racialized discourses associated with many derogatory characteristics such as
laziness or a bad work ethic (Fox, 2013; Parutis, 2011).
‘In-between’ and ‘complicated’ attitudes
While the narratives I have discussed thus far suggest that the consequences of migrant
encounters with difference involve development or revision of both favourable and
unfavourable attitudes, it needs to be reiterated that the effects of encounters are likely to
be much more complex. As such, they may (and often do) include situated or mixed stances
(i.e. both favourable and prejudiced). Furthermore, in line with my discussion earlier in this
article, many of these attitudes are also developed, revised or changed beyond the
workplace in various other settings (e.g. school, home) and through diverse relationships
with difference (e.g. partnerships, friendships). This was evident in the narratives of the
majority of participants of this study. Rather than becoming unconditionally favourable or
unfavourable, their attitudes were negotiated, fluid (i.e. ‘in-between’ prejudiced and
positive) and ‘messy’ reflecting the complicatedness of the social world and human relations.
I illustrate this ‘messiness’ below by exploring four distinctive examples.
The first example embraces the narratives of Filip and Iga both living and working in
diverse environments close to one of Leeds’ universities. These participants argued that they
had never encountered a non-heterosexual person before moving to the UK. Both also
claimed that they developed strong positive attitudes towards gay men through their
friendships post-migration. Below is how they narrated these encounters as well as their
feelings towards non-heteronormativity.
20
I hadn’t known any homosexual or bisexual person before I came to the
UK. (…) I have [now] very friendly relations with a few people who are
homosexual. (…) They are really well-organized, have this amazing eye
for details. (…) What I’m also jealous of is their skill to combine colours,
clothes, their ability to be very tactful and sensitive and empathic. And,
it’s very interesting that these features are repeated every time I meet a
new homosexual person. (…) This refers to men mainly. Because, I had
an experience with a lesbian and she hated men terribly.
Filip (male, aged 28, arrived to the UK in 2005)
I was thinking how I would react if I had met somebody of a different
sexual orientation [in Poland]. And I thought that I could have some
issues towards him or her. But now, having met them I believe they’re
very often more wonderful people than we [heterosexual people]. (…)
They’re not so hypocritical as we. (…) I have nothing against gay people
and civil partnerships. But, I don’t think it’s normal that they raise
children. Because - if we look at it - there are two males or two females.
And, no matter how much they try I think a kid gets harmed. (…) I
don’t want to insult them in any way (…). But, I don’t think they would
be good parents. I know there are families with a father and a mother,
an alcoholic family for example, and in such a family a kid doesn’t get
the upbringing he or she should get. But, at least there’s this male-
female model preserved.
Iga (female, aged 30, moved to the UK in 2005)
21
It seems that despite their favourable attitudes (Filip and Iga, indeed, truly enjoy the
company of their gay friends), both respondents draw clear boundaries between the
imagined ‘us’ and ‘them’, hetero- and non-heterosexual people. While engaging with
negotiations of the acceptable and the unacceptable, Iga in particular appears to suggest
that raising children is a privilege reserved for hetero-normative people. More curiously, she
implies that a dysfunctional family (exemplified here by a figure of an alcoholic parent) is a
more appropriate environment for a child than a same-sex family. Although various studies
illustrate that diverse family arrangements are practiced in Poland, understandings of family
in heterosexual terms still dominates the Polish public discourse (Mizielińska, 2010). It is
furthermore strongly embedded in the hegemonic narratives of Polishness that Polish
migrants to the UK have been argued to employ (author). This may be a reason why Iga fails
to recognise her attitude as prejudice and strongly believes her approach towards her gay
friends is favourable and appropriate. Above all, both narratives demonstrate that, while
Filip and Iga appear to experience meaningful (positive) encounters, their stereotypical
understandings of difference rather than being challenged are continuously reinforced.
The second example of the complicatedness of migrant attitudes towards difference is
the story of Magda. While happily married to a Muslim migrant of Northern-African
background and describing her inter-faith (Catholic-Muslim) relationship as transcending
religious and cultural divides, in the interviews Magda expressed a range of mixed feelings
(including prejudice) towards Muslim communities and Islam. This is demonstrated in a
quote below in which Magda admits that she and her husband have a profound (yet
consciously neglected) dilemma related to their future children’s religious attachments.
22
We still don’t agree about that. (…) I’d prefer my children to be of my
religion and he’d prefer the kids to be raised in his. So, as for now we
don’t have children. But, I don’t know how we could solve it. We can
adopt a child. If we adopt a child, this kid can be raised in a religion he or
she was born in. (…) I don’t know what we’ll do. Personally, if it is a boy
I’ll have nothing against [him being Muslim]. But, if it’s a girl I’d
prefer her not to be [Muslim]. They [women] do have limited rights. (…)
If my daughter was Muslim and in the future had a husband who’s like
my own husband, there’s absolutely no problem. But, my husband is
quite unique when I compare him to the majority of [Muslim] people I
know.
Magda (female, aged 29, moved to the UK in 2007)
This quote demonstrates that Magda’s complicated, yet predominantly positive, encounter
with a Muslim person does not appear to influence her attitude towards the whole group,
i.e. Muslim people (Matejskova and Leitner, 2011; Valentine, 2008). Indeed, Magda
perceives her husband as exceptional in comparison to other Muslims, men in particular.
This only reinforces her prejudice and mobilizes racialized as well as gendered discourses
associated with the alleged domination of Muslim men and oppression of women (Said,
2003 [1978]; Tarlo, 2007). Magda would not want her daughter to be Muslim implying that
she might as a Muslim woman be oppressed in the future. At the same time, she would not
oppose for her son to be Muslim. Even though she continuously experiences largely positive
encounters with religious difference at home, her prejudiced attitudes towards Muslim men
23
and the assumed oppressive power-relations in Muslim communities seem unlikely to be
challenged.
Magda’s narrative is also interesting, because it contributes to and extends the
understanding of geographies of home and/or intimate encounters which remain largely
underexplored (Schuermans, 2013; Valentine et al., 2014). In particular, it suggests that such
issues as family roles, home-making and raising children are prone to fuel tensions and
mobilize prejudiced discourses. This echoes the significance of family values for many Polish
migrants to the UK I have noted earlier in this article (i.e. Iga) as well as elsewhere (author).
The next example of the ‘messiness’ of the effects of migrant responses to difference is
the narrative of Marek. While many research participants expressed complex attitudes
towards singular axis of difference, Marek appeared to develop attitudes towards the
intersection of two (or more) categories of difference (e.g. class and ethnicity; gender,
religion and ethnicity). This tendency is also inferred by Magda and Filip, quoted earlier, who
seem to hold differing views about Muslim men and women (Magda), and gay men and
lesbians (Filip). It is, however, most evident in the narrative of Marek below. Marek used to
live in a large city in the United States prior to moving to the UK. In the interviews, he clearly
differentiated between middle-class Black people and Black working-class youth.
I developed some prejudices towards Black people there [in the US].
They grew even bigger when I came here [the UK]. (…) It’s not about the
whole race. (…) It’s about the Black minority which lives on benefits. (…)
We used to live in a block of flats. There was a guy living above us, he
must have been from Africa. He was terribly loudly. (…) So, it influenced
me and made me think that they [Black people] cannot live in a
24
community. But, I also met many Black people who were very eloquent,
good persons, many of them taught me (…) they were really great
people. I think that unless it’s a person who wears a suit, he or she will
probably be loudly, may look for [troubles] and is not capable of living in
a community.
Marek (male, aged 32, moved to the UK in 2007)
Marek’s prejudice towards the intersection of ethnicity and class is particularly well reflected
in the metaphor he uses (‘wearing a suit’) to differentiate between educated, as he implies,
middle-class Black people and ill-mannered, as he suggests, Black working-class youth. Suit is
here not only a powerful symbol of inclusion into the group of ‘respectful’ citizens Marek
identifies with, but also a rhetorical tool allowing the respondent to legitimise and
rationalize his prejudice (Valentine, 2010).
The final example of ‘complicated’ migrant attitudes includes the narratives of Piotr and
Iga (both quoted earlier). These narratives are illustrative of what I term ‘situated attitudes’,
i.e. the attitudes towards the same category of difference that were argued by the study
participants to differ in the UK and Polish context. In the two quotes below, Piotr and Iga
elaborate on the ‘situated-ness’ of their feelings towards social status (homelessness). While
these respondents’ interactions with homeless people in Leeds were rather limited in
comparison to other cases explored in this article, they were meaningful because of their
repetitive nature and capacity to disrupt the previously held understandings and attitudes.
I think there should be no homeless people in this country [the UK]. (…)
Because you can achieve everything here, right? I’m not speaking of
25
having amazing education you can achieve things with a very simple
profession. (…) In Poland it’s slightly different. I always felt sorry for
these people. I still feel so, but I feel less sorry here [the UK]. Because, I
know that with a minimal effort they could improve their situation and
standard of living. In our country [Poland] it’s slightly different.
Piotr (male, aged 40, arrived to the UK in 2004)
The situation in Poland is much worse I mean financially and
politically. I think that it’s much more probable that a person becomes
homeless in Poland than here [in the UK] and I can understand being
homeless there. However, I cannot understand it here… A person must
be choosing to live like this. It sounds badly, but from my perspective - a
person who came here without the knowledge of English and managed
to start a life I cannot understand why somebody able to speak English
has this sort of a problem.
Iga (female, aged 30, moved to the UK in 2005)
Clearly, Piotr’s and Iga’s narratives demonstrate that their attitudes towards homeless
people are to a significant degree place dependent. What is in the respondents’ words
‘understandable’ in the Polish context, seems to be stigmatised while encountered in the
UK. It is perhaps worth mentioning here that this attitude may be fuelled by the broader
understanding of the UK as a society where personal or professional success is easily
achievable. Similar construction of the UK against Poland has been discussed by Galasińska
(2010) who has looked into Polish migratory discourse in the context of postcommunist
26
transformation. The author has noted that Polish migrants to the UK tend to attribute ‘the
normal’ to the British context while ‘the abnormal’ to the Polish one. In the migrantsstories
Galasińska (2010) investigated Poland was, indeed, depicted as ‘a pit’ or ‘the middle ages’
a place of lacking work opportunities and offering lower standards of living. Importantly,
such discourses seem to further draw upon a broader tendency among recent Polish
migrants to the UK to essentialise Poland and the UK as binaries (author).
Piotr’s and Iga’s narratives further evidence that beyond individual experience, migrant
attitudes towards difference are also prone to be shaped by broader migratory contexts as
well as and culturally-specific discourses of sameness and difference. This was also evident in
the narratives of Iga, cited earlier, whose understanding of sexuality appears to be
embedded in distinctive conceptualisation of hetero-normative family as a core Polish value.
The empirical material that I have collected through interviews with Polish migrants to
Leeds suggests that through migration between two geo-historical contexts and an increased
meaningful contact with diversity, migrants are likely to develop, enhance or revise their
values and attitudes towards difference. These ‘new’ stances include not only positive and
prejudiced understandings and attitudes, but also a whole set of ‘in-between’ and
‘complicated’ approaches. Crucially, what makes these encounters distinctive from the
encounters between, and among, non-migrant populations are culturally-specific
understandings of difference that some migrants mobilise while encountering difference and
trying to ‘make sense’ of it. This is particularly visible in how some respondents in this study
conceptualised family and child rearing or homelessness.
27
Conclusions
By exploring encounters with difference in terms of ethnicity, religion, class, social status,
sexuality and gender, in this article I have investigated how people’s values and attitudes
towards diversity are developed, revised or interrupted through migration. I have focused on
meaningful encounters argued to “change values and attitudes and translate beyond the
specifics of the individual moment” (Valentine, 2008: 325). While Valentine (2008) has
conceptualised such meaningful contact as disrupting negative attitudes and generating
respect, I understand ‘meaningful-ness’ of encounters more broadly, as a capacity to form,
alter or complicate people’s feelings about difference.
In the article, I have specifically looked at post-2004 migrants from Poland (a
postcommunist country relatively homogeneous in terms of ethnicity, nationality and
religion) to the UK (a super-diverse postcolonial state). This case is illustrative of the
challenges that arise with increased migration between distinctive socio-historical contexts.
Although it is unique in a sense that geo-historical positionality of Poland may produce
distinctive understandings of difference, the consequences of encounters I discuss remain
relevant to broad migratory contexts.
The article contributes to the geographies of encounter literature in a number of ways.
Firstly, it investigates migrant population thus far frequently overlooked in a broader
discussion on how to live with diversity (e.g. Amin, 2002; Cook et al., 2011b; Neal et al.,
2013; Valentine, 2008; Wilson, 2013). Secondly, by looking at various circumstances in which
migrant encounters take place, it illustrates that home and workplace, relatively
underresearched until recently (e.g. Harris and Valentine, forthcoming; Schuermans, 2013),
are indeed likely to be sites of meaningful (migrant) contact with difference. Finally, in
attempting to understand the complex nature of migrant values and attitudes, the article
28
considers what migrants ‘bring’ to encounters. In doing so, it recognises that people’s values
and attitudes (e.g. understandings of family or social status) are embedded in broader geo-
historical and culture-specific understandings of difference (Valentine et al., 2015). This is
something the future research needs to take particular account of. Otherwise, there is a risk
that the discussion of how difference is produced, lived or mobilised in the context of
migration (or by migrant communities vis-a-vis host society population) becomes superficial
and incomplete.
Furthermore, the article extends and nuances emerging debates on East-West migration
in Europe and migrant experiences of difference, so far selectively explored in disciplinary
literatures (i.e. mostly with regard to prejudiced attitudes, labour migrants and their
workplace interactions). By showing how Polish migrants’ values and attitudes may develop,
are revised or changed, it draws attention to a complex repertoire of stances being the
consequence of meaningful encounters. While a few cases explored in this study suggest
that some migrants develop prejudice towards difference, the issue that is often exclusively
explored with regard to Central and Eastern European migrants to the UK (e.g. Fox, 2013;
McDowell et al., 2007; Parutis, 2011), other demonstrate that favourable attitudes,
acceptance and engagement with diversity are also likely to be the effects of migrant
encounters. Crucially, the article stresses that alongside explicitly positive or negative
attitudes, the majority of research participants expressed what could be described as ‘in-
between’ or ‘complicated’ feelings. By shifting from openness to prejudice, respectful to
essentialist discourses, these stances remained fluid, selective and contextualised. As such,
they are reflective of the intricacies of lived experience of difference (Valentine and
Sadgrove, 2012).
29
Importantly, in the article I have looked at what could be described as post-encounter
and have paid less attention to the pre-encounter (values and attitudes towards difference
that migrants held upon arrival to the UK). This is not to suggest that migrant values and
attitudes are not influenced by experiences of individual migrants prior to migration, their
socialisation or personal dispositions. Rather, my intention is to stress that through
migration values and attitudes are likely to further evolve in various ways. Inspired by recent
studies (e.g. Valentine and Sadgrove, 2012), I understand values and attitudes as processes
that stretch beyond the present to involve the past and the future.
This study suggests that encounters with diversity have a profound impact on the
capacity of migrants to live with difference. It illustrates that migrants may respond to
difference in complex ways which are likely to be informed by context- and culture-specific
discourses of ‘otherness’. Against the backdrop of accelerated migration in Europe, and
globally, these findings are of particular importance for further academic as well as policy
debates.
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Social & Cultural Geography 1-24
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... Jednak kontakt taki nie decyduje o kierunku zmiany, prowadząc jedynie do wzbogacenia i konkretyzacji obrazu. Teza mówiąca, że każdy kontakt zmniejsza dystans nie jest całkowicie trafna, co było widoczne już w wynikach wcześniejszych studiów polskich badaczy (Grzymała-Moszczyńska, Nowicka 1998; Gawlewicz 2016). Kontakt musi się charakteryzować z jednej strony pewną trwałością, a z drugiej musi zawierać określony element emocjonalny. ...
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Is this still the stereotype? The image of the English in Polish society – tradition and new knowledge The article analyzes the results of the “Poles and Others” survey, devoted to Poles’ attitudes towards other nations and races which was conducted in June 2018. It refers to almost identical surveys from 1988 and 1998 which were prepared by the authors of this article and carried out according to the same methodological and technical rules. In the article, we focus on the image of the English in contemporary Polish society. Its striking feature is the richness and diversity of wording. The interpretation of this complexity is a major part of our considerations. Individual elements of the image are treated as the result of inter-ethnic direct and indirect contact resulting from migration phenomena, as well as progress in the field of technical possibilities of interpersonal contacts. On the one hand, this is due to increasing mobility and more personal contacts, but also to widely available media coverage and the use of massive forms of effective communication (Skype and WhatsApp connections, development of cellular technologies and the Internet). On the other hand, it comes from contacts with families in Poland of persons who remained in the United Kingdom as emigrants, and through them with a wider group of their relatives, friends and acquaintances. Despite these changes in perception, the distance towards the English has not altered; – they are still seen by Poles as one of the nations that is closest to us in Europe. In the article, we want to question the legitimacy of using the classic concept of the “stereotype” less commonly used by sociologists, but remaining in use among psychologists (who see in them sources of prejudice and discrimination, and problems of intergroup contacts) and experts in cultural studies. We will try to prove that the conceptual category of the stereotype should be replaced with the concept of a more complex “ethnic image” and our collected research experience confirms this thesis. Streszczenie Artykuł analizuje wyniki sondażu „Polacy i inni trzydzieści lat później”, poświęconego postawom Polaków wobec innych narodów i ras, który został przeprowadzony w czerwcu 2018 r. Nawiązuje on do podobnych sondaży z lat 1988 i 1998, które zostały przygotowane przez autorów artykułu i zrealizowane według tych samych reguł metodologicznych i technicznych. W artykule koncentrujemy się na wizerunku Anglika we współczesnym społeczeństwie polskim. Jego uderzającą cechą jest bogactwo i zróżnicowanie sformułowań. Interpretacja tej złożoności stanowi główną część naszych rozważań. Poszczególne elementy wizerunku są traktowane jako efekt międzyetnicznych styczności bezpośrednich i pośrednich płynących ze zjawisk migracyjnych, a także postępu w zakresie technicznych możliwości kontaktów międzyludzkich. Z jednej strony, wynika to z rosnącej mobilności i liczniejszych styczności osobistych, ale także szeroko dostępnego przekazu medialnego i używania na masową skalę skutecznych form komunikacji (połączenia Skype i Whatsapp, rozwój technologii komórkowych oraz Internetu). Z drugiej, pochodzi on z kontaktów z rodzinami w Polsce osób, które pozostały w Wielkiej Brytanii jako emigranci, a za ich pośrednictwem z szerszym gronem ich krewnych, przyjaciół i znajomych. Mimo zmian w wizerunku nie zmienił się dystans wobec Anglików, którzy postrzegani są ciągle przez Polaków jako jedni z najbliższych nam narodów w Europie. W artykule chcemy zakwestionować zasadność posługiwania się klasycznym pojęciem „stereotypu”, rzadziej już używanego przez socjologów, ale pozostającym w użyciu wśród psychologów (upatrujących w nich źródła uprzedzeń i dyskryminacji oraz problemów w kontaktach międzygrupowych) oraz kulturoznawców. Będziemy starali się dowieść, że kategorię pojęciową stereotypu należy zastąpić pojęciem bardziej złożonym „wizerunku” („obrazu”) etnicznego”, a zebrane doświadczenie badawcze potwierdza tę tezę.
... Społeczne skutki poakcesyjnych… 2014). Wśród opracowań socjologicznych dominują publikacje, które analizują głównie procesy adaptacji i akulturacji polskich migrantów w Wielkiej Brytanii oraz ich strategie migracyjne (Garapich 2008(Garapich , 2010, rolę przekazów społecznych (social remittances) i przepływów kulturowych (Garapich, Grabowska 2016), znaczenie kontaktu z różnorodnością kulturową społeczeństwa brytyjskiego dla postaw polskich migrantów w tym kraju oraz na zmiany ich planów i celów życiowych (Gawlewicz 2015a;Gawlewicz 2015b;Gawlewicz 2016;Bielewska 2013;Piętka 2011). Stosunkowo małe zainteresowanie badawcze budził natomiast problem, czy i w jaki sposób ta emigracja wraz ze wzrostem i różnorodnością kontaktów społecznych wywarła wpływ na obraz Wielkiej Brytanii i jej mieszkańców w społeczeństwie polskim. ...
... Jednak kontakt taki nie decyduje o kierunku zmiany, prowadząc jedynie do wzbogacenia i konkretyzacji obrazu. Teza mówiąca, że każdy kontakt zmniejsza dystans nie jest całkowicie trafna, co było widoczne już w wynikach wcześniejszych studiów polskich badaczy (Grzymała-Moszczyńska, Nowicka 1998; Gawlewicz 2016). Kontakt musi się charakteryzować z jednej strony pewną trwałością, a z drugiej musi zawierać określony element emocjonalny. ...
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Artykuł analizuje wyniki sondażu "Polacy i inni trzydzieści lat później", poświęconego postawom Polaków wobec innych narodów i ras, który został przeprowadzony w czerwcu 2018 r. Nawiązuje on do podobnych sondaży z lat 1988 i 1998, które zostały przygotowane przez autorów artykułu i zrealizowane według tych samych reguł metodologicznych i technicznych. W artykule koncentru-jemy się na wizerunku Anglika we współczesnym społeczeństwie polskim. Jego uderzającą cechą jest bogactwo i zróżnicowanie sformułowań. Interpretacja tej złożoności stanowi główną część naszych rozważań. Poszczególne elementy wizerunku są traktowane jako efekt międzyetnicznych styczności bezpośrednich i pośrednich płynących ze zjawisk migracyjnych, a także postępu w zakre-sie technicznych możliwości kontaktów międzyludzkich. Z jednej strony, wynika to z rosnącej mo-bilności i liczniejszych styczności osobistych, ale także szeroko dostępnego przekazu medialnego i używania na masową skalę skutecznych form komunikacji (połączenia Skype i Whatsapp, rozwój technologii komórkowych oraz Internetu). Z drugiej, pochodzi on z kontaktów z rodzinami w Pol-sce osób, które pozostały w Wielkiej Brytanii jako emigranci, a za ich pośrednictwem z szerszym gronem ich krewnych, przyjaciół i znajomych. Mimo zmian w wizerunku nie zmienił się dystans 1 Tekst artykułu został wygłoszony jako referat w trakcie VIII Konferencji Komitetu Badań nad Mi-gracjami PAN pt. "Migracje w przestrzeni publicznej" (która odbyła się we Wrocławiu w dniach 10-11.09.2019) w ramach sesji V pt. "Metodologiczne problemy badań nad migracjami-dobre praktyki i wyzwania" prowadzonej przez prof. Halinę Grzymałę-Moszczyńską. Proponowany styl cytowania: Nowicka E., Łodziński S. (2021), Czy to jeszcze stereotyp? Wizerunek Anglika w społeczeństwie pol-skim-tradycja i nowa wiedza, "Studia Migracyjne-Przegląd Polonijny", 1 (179): 101-124.
... The process of migration has made it possible for our participants to get connected with many cultures and people they have never imagined back in their home country -Romania. This multifarious set of diverse encounters with diverse people is conceptualized by our participants as evidence that the geographical dislocations entailed by international migration contribute to personal development and the growth of wisdom (see also Gawlewicz, 2016;Triandafyllidou, 2019;Yang, 2019). The cumulative connections with diverse cultures and people manifested in the form of learning new things, transmitting of information, making of new friends (cf. ...
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Our research seeks to answer whether immigrants see the act of relocating to a different country and the place-based intercultural encounters associated with this migration as being conducive to wisdom. The study is interested in qualitatively analysing the spatial constitution of wisdom and the perceptions of wisdom that immigrants possess. This situated approach looks at wisdom in relation to narrativity, subjectivity, and positionality, as opposed to the now-dominant psychological view of wisdom as a quantifiable phenomenon that can be measured on a positivist scale. Both inter-country migration and living amongst other ethnicities in migrant cities are spatial processes of relevance to our attempt to think geographically about how people become wiser. We investigate empirically and develop the foregoing themes by drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with Romanian immigrants in Ontario, Canada, between 2014 and 2018. How to cite: Kutor, S.K., Raileanu, A. and Simandan, D., 2022. Thinking geographically about how people become wiser: an analysis of the spatial dislocations and intercultural encounters of international migrants, Social Sciences & Humanities Open. 6(1): 100288, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssaho.2022.100288
... It should be noted, though, that this change is not unidirectional, with minority group members assimilating into the mainstream culture. The outcome of intercultural encounters and dialogue can lead to change in values, perceptions and attitudes in both directions, where the participating individuals and groups mutually change their views of each other (Dessel and Rogge, 2008;Gawlewicz, 2015). ...
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Today most societies across the world are witnessing rising levels of social and cultural diversity brought about by globalisation and in particular increased human mobility and significant advances in information and communications technologies. The dilemma, therefore, has been how best to manage the resultant diversity and what optimal social policy paradigms to adopt towards this end. Assimilation, multiculturalism and presently interculturalism have all been proposed as possible policy conduits for managing socio-cultural diversity. This book, in focusing on the latter concept, and in particular in its intercultural dialogue manifestation, offers at once theoretical examinations, policy discussion and practical explorations of its uptake across the world. The core argument connecting the book’s three distinct sections is that whilst assimilation in its racist manifestation is no longer a viable option in today’s world, intercultural dialogue within existing multicultural settings has much to offer.
... Furthermore, a false image nourished by stereotypes about migration and idealized stories that do not represent reality produces a sense of strain and dissonance between expectations and the lived experience (Gawlewicz, 2016). The lack of social support and the disillusionment of their goal in migrating undermine the masculine narrative of 'traveling for the miracle', thus increasing the sense of responsibility for family that remained in their home country, combined with a feeling of impotence in failing to fulfill that expectation (Deng, 2004). ...
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... Further, we analyze intersectionality through the lens of structuration; this recognizes the interplay between individual agency and social structures (Giddens, 1986b), to account for the complex interaction between contextual dimensions and entrepreneurship. While intersectionality is deeply embedded in existing structures of society (Bilge, 2015;Crenshaw, 1991;Gawlewicz, 2016), intersectionality also finds expression in the subjective identities of individuals situated at the intersection of different structures of gender, class, disability, sexual identities and religion (Bilge, 2014;Staunaes, 2003). We propose that, as an ontological lens, structuration can resolve the tension between macro and micro sociological levels of intersectionality, between structures and individual agents. ...
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European societies have recently witnessed unprecedented rise in mobility, particularly along the East-West axis. In this context, the ability of individual migrants to make sense of and live with difference becomes a key issue for contemporary Europe. In response, this PhD thesis investigates the consequences of migrant encounters with difference in terms of ethnicity, religion, class, sexuality, gender, age and disability. It explores how migration from a postcommunist to a postcolonial state shapes people’s values and attitudes towards difference as well as how, against this backdrop, understandings of difference circulate between migrants and their significant others in a sending society. As such, the study focuses on Polish post-2004 migrants in Leeds, UK and their family members and/or friends in Poland. The thesis is situated within geography and broader social science literatures on mobility/migration, geographies of encounter, whiteness, postcolonialism, the concept of postdependence, values and attitudes towards difference, prejudice, family as well as circulation of ideas. It draws on qualitative empirical material collected through multiple interviews, audio-diaries and supplementary survey conducted with migrant participants in Leeds, and single interviews with their significant others carried out in various locations in Poland. The thesis establishes that migrant encounters may result in development, revision or change of values and attitudes towards difference. This may involve a range of personal stances from rejection or strong negative prejudice, through admitting greater familiarity or understanding of difference, to acceptance, solidarity or engagement. Furthermore, the thesis demonstrates that newly developed, revised or changed values and attitudes are likely to be communicated to significant others in a sending society. This contributes to the cross-border circulation of values, attitudes, beliefs, discourses, language and practices, and may affect not only migrants’, but also significant others’ capacity to live with difference.
Chapter
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Since the 2004 enlargement of the European Union over half a million Polish migrants have registered to work in the United Kingdom, constituting one of the largest migration movements in contemporary Europe. Drawing on research undertaken across a wide range of disciplines - history, economics, sociology, anthropology, film studies and discourse analysis - and focusing on both the Polish and British aspects of this phenomenon - both emigration and immigration - this edited collection investigates what is actually new about this migration flow, what its causes and consequences are, and how these migrants' lives have changed by moving to the United Kingdom. As the first book to deal with Polish migration to the United Kingdom, Polish Migration to the UK in the 'New' European Union will appeal to scholars across a range of social sciences, whose work concerns migration and the migration process.
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