About ten years ago, the researches like Massey argued that such problem as an international migration was critical mostly for the industrial era and then simply flown into its particular reflection of social institutions, technology, politics, demography, and economic changes throughout the world. Still, that approach has faced a kind of crisis thrilled by new hypotheses, concepts, and ideas (Castles 2008). The example of mass migrations from Poland to the United Kingdom during past decades that continue till now reveals the main reasons, circumstances, and further tendencies regarding waves of Polish migration.
Nowadays, there is much broader look on a problem of migration, and Massey and his collaborators now consider that there is no separate theory regarding the main question.
“The time has come… to reassess theories of international migration and bring them into conformity with new empirical conditions… The ‘post-industrial, post-Cold War world’ needed a new theory of migration appropriate for ‘a brand new century’” (Castles 2008). Polish migration has been lately studied more carefully as well, and many authors presented new views and thoughts on that question.
Generally, there are a lot of factors that caused and still continue to cause any migration: bad or instable economic situation, unemployment, low salaries, poor medical treatment, health problems caused by environmental pollution, no opportunities for development, etc.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand that the peculiarity of typical migration of the 19th and 20th centuries was different from modern migration. Hence, Poland is not an exception. Evidently, above all it belonged to labour migration, while these days a migration touches such things as openness, changes in technology, transportation, and many cross-cultural concepts. As a result, the 21st century is full of movements for different purposes: marriage, study, professional development, and persuasion of original lifestyle. They bring new relevance to migration theory. Such trends have been observed in modern Poland and other countries.
In addition, an interesting debate has brought a differentiation between such notions as migration and mobility that often are mixed. It explains that a movement of the highly skilled people is nothing, but a professional mobility. At the same time, lower skilled people pushed by unwanted escape belong to migrants. According to researches, mobility as a good notion is equal to “the badge of a modern open society”. On contrary, migration as a bad notion “reawakens archaic memories of invasion and displacement”. It means that migration more precisely reflects current relations, changes, and conflicts in a global world. There are a lot of Polish people who can be considered as highly skilled, as well as lower skilled workers. Still, it is a very questionable point, because highly skilled people often in foreign countries are used to be lower skilled workers.
There is a vivid thought that high levels of immigration caused by globalization have influenced traditional schemes of citizenship. As there is a great number of Polish in the UK, then they evidently have been influencing the citizenship in a new place. According to Triadafilopoulos (2001), the idea of citizenship is seen as membership in a community of politically aware people and does not touch anything from common cultural community.
No doubt, the tendency of migration has its roots in historical events and changes that took place in different countries on different continents. According to Castles (2008), such important things as colonialism, invasion, capitalism, and fast grow of urban areas have played a definite role in a global migration and are highly essential now. As to Poland, in the 1990s, first John Major and then Robin Cook tried to persuade eastern ex-communist Poland to join the European Union (EU) (Travis 2010). Since 2004, when eight more nations including Poland had become the members of the EU, Polish people started to migrate to other countries. They got a chance to find better work and better life within EU. According to the statistic, about 300,000 Polish workers arrived in the UK during first years of EU membership.
Evidently, earning more money was the main reason for migrants, because the average salary at that period in Poland was two hundred dollars a month (Polish migrants in the UK, 2011).
However, it is a false belief that such migration was an additional opportunity for Polish people only. In contrast, the citizens of the UK were glad to have by their side really hard working people that were ready to do jobs that locals would never do. After several years of staying in the UK, some Polish migrants returned home with money, when another category of Polish continued to live in the UK and started their own business like their own cafes or restaurants (Polish migrants in United Kingdom). Having referenced to 2011 census, around 521,000 Polish-born people have established their homes here (Rainey 2013).
According to the information above, it appears that the situation with Polish citizens touches not mobility, but migration. The question remains: If all people who moved to the UK were lower-skilled people? Of course, the truth was different. Majority of people had a higher education and were professional workers in Poland, but earned pitiable money in motherland. No doubt, the UK is a good place for making money, but there are many obstacles and difficulties for migrants.
According to Rainey (2013), her Polish friend who grew up in south London explains the differences between Polish migrants in the UK now and 10-15 years ago:
10 or 15 years ago, you used to be able to sit on a bus and listen in on the most intimate conversations between Polish people. They would share all sorts of indiscretions and talk in loud voices, because they thought nobody else could understand them… Now…the whole bus is Polish. So nobody talks about anything exciting any more.
Polish is commonly spoken language by a half a million people in England and Wales. Polish communities are situated in urban areas of west London, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Liverpool as well as in rural areas of Cumbria and the Scottish Highlands (Rainey 2013).
It is also important to understand that the migration before 2004 and after 2004 for Polish people is a different thing, because previously migrated people mostly went through illegal movement and violation of residential laws. Moreover, different political issues and pressure made Polish people escapees. Economical situation after Post-Communism faced a lot of challenges that were overcome by using “Shock therapy” (Alessi 2012). Since becoming a member of EU, the wave of Polish migration has changed to a legal one. In order to prove the statements about migration of the 21st century, it is interesting to use the words of Szaniawski. He says that the first factor of movement from Poland to the UK was work and money necessary for adults and mature Polish people and their families. Nowadays, people who go there are young Polish who want to follow an adventurous life in Britain. Szaniawski continued that “They’re flexible and they move with the demands of the labour market. It’s this willingness to go where the work is that helps them to ingratiate themselves” (Rainey 2013)
Integration is a crucial thing for Polish people and they work hard to reach it. Still, there is a category of Polish migrants who try to resist integration by many means; for example, they do not want to learn English, and sustain only Polish community traditions and their native language. Nevertheless, young people are eager to integrate, because they think positively of the process of integration. At the same time, they do not ignore their Polish roots and national peculiarities. According to Joanna Pietrzykowska who came from eastern Poland seven years ago, these days it is possible to get everything Polish you want in the UK: Polish food, books from libraries, original movies, and meet other Polish people there, so you do not feel lonely at all (Rainey 2013). Hence, this fact in addition with more job opportunities and better salaries explains why Polish youth decide to stay in the UK rather than come back home to Poland.
According to Trevena’s, McGhee’s, and Heath’s (n.d.) researches and surveys on internal and international Polish migrants and their movement to the UK, a lot of important facts have been revealed. Moreover, the analysis was based on experimental tasks of 83 Polish migrants occupying urban and rural territories in Scotland and England. As the results shown, migrants who come through recruitment agencies and live in Britain without their children are the most internally mobile people. Simultaneously, those who arrive through family bonds, acquaintances or friends networks, and are tied with school-age children or even very little children are the least likely to move after coming in the UK. Interestingly, migrants with families prefer urban to rural moves, while younger representatives without offspring find rural places better than urban ones. In fact, once the migrants have got a permanent workplace and preferable accommodation, they are less interested to move again. It means that family network plays an essential part in migration, too.
According to Russel King (1996), there are many positive things in migration, because it does not erase local culture, but enriches it, brings something new and pushes further. It also changes landscape and modifies urban areas while evoking rural territories. Additionally, modern kind of migration itself is creative and has more positive than negative aspects. The example of Polish migration proves that the UK changed a lot since people of another nationality had arrived. In order to seek positive things out of that fact, it remains evident that Polish people have made a solid contribution to economy of the UK. They mostly started to work as physical workers, but then continued to gain professional education in the UK (King 2002). Nowadays, there are many white-collar workers doing their best in offices throughout the UK. Moreover, Polish people are very religious people who follow Catholicism. It is likely to believe that as they constitute a great percentage in the UK, then they maintain Christianity by many means.
It is known that a social model of Post-Fordism in the UK and other countries attracted many people. Its core was found in mass customization. Moreover, economic globalization was dominant, too. That theory and its further development brought such advantages in modern society as “…better access to information, particularly through information technologies, enables a real-time update about market conditions (demand and price)” (The geography of transport system n.d.). Flexibility, globalization, innovations, and changes are the characteristics of Post-Fordism theory. In contrast to Post-Fordism, Fordism had absolutely opposite priorities that were against globalization and integration. Obviously, more improved model of social and economic life appeared in the UK earlier than in other states including Poland. It can be seen as an additional reason for people to move.
Besides, migrants in the UK continue to consider that it is better to live and give a birth in a country with more opportunities and freedoms. According to statistics, more and more Polish women prefer to create a family and have children in the UK. They often are in relationships with British men who later become good husbands and fathers in their families.
At the same time, it is important to remember that such horrible things as prostitutions, kidnapping, and exploitation also remain in the UK. Polish migrants are often victims of different violation too. Hence, Bhattacharyya (2005) said the following, “I have tried to explain that each new demon – gangsters, drugs, guns, migrants establishes a global reach only by hitching a ride on the formal processes of globalization… No one believes that things can go on as they are”.
In conclusion, there are two sides of a coin and it will always be some contradiction in any model, theory, concept, or thought regarding migration.
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