ISSN 2300-1682

Central and Eastern European Migration Review

Issue edited by: Izabela Grabowska, Michał P. Garapich

Editorial

Extract  

Migratory remittances are inseparable components of development. At the same time, both these concepts are contested, with less than clear contours (Castles, de Haas and Miller 2009); development in particular is based predominately on ‘an assumption that something is moving from a lower, less differentiated status to a higher, better and more differentiated one’ (Hammar and Tamas 1997: 18). This includes the belief that some societies are the least, some less, and some the most developed or advanced (Hammar and Tamas 1997). In this sense, migration plays a key role as one of the symptoms of development.

Extract  

Instead of Preface: Reflexive Interview with Professor Peggy Levitt

Articles

Abstract  

The aim of this paper is to examine individual social remittances in the sphere of employment, against the background of the changing employment patterns and flexibilisation of work. Through an analysis of life stories of post-accession return migrants from the UK to Poland, it investigates the way in which returnees’ work experience gathered abroad impacts on their perception of employment standards in general. The revealed differences are understood as ‘potential social remittances’, i.e. the discrepancies acknowledged by returnees between the realities experienced during emigration and after their return (in this case to Poland). It is argued that the actualisation of the ‘potential social remittances’ depends on return migrants’ coping strategies as well as on the institutional and structural settings in returnees’ home country. The four main distinguished strategies are: re-emigration, activism, adaptation and entrepreneurship.

Abstract  

This paper explores how the workplace experience of migrants helps to determine  part of the social remittances they can make to their country of origin. The social remittance literature needs to pay more attention to work as an element of the migrant experience. Focus is placed on public internet forums related to newspapers in Poland because these are a very open means of communicating experience to the public sphere. To support the analysis, UK census and other data are used to show both the breadth of work done by Polish migrants in the UK and some of its peculiarities. This is then followed with a more qualitative analysis of selected comments from the gazeta.pl website. The complexities of both the range of migrants’ ideas about their work and also the analysis of internet-based newspaper comment sites as a form of public communication are shown.

Abstract  

The article discusses how to research the impact of migration on social change in sending countries, without using a development studies framework. It argues for greater attention to the lives of ‘stayers’. A comprehensive approach to migration impact should begin by using mainstream sociological research to identify overall social trends in the origin country, before considering migration as one determinant of change. The case study is social remittances in contemporary Poland. Social remittances are understood to include not just foreign ideas, but also those resulting from migrants’ reflections on their own changing lives. One way to investigate how such social remittances ‘scale up’ to create cultural change is to consider the meso-level of regional migration culture. Taking the example of changing gender roles, I discuss Polish sociological and migration scholarship before presenting my own quantitative and qualitative data on stayers’ opinions about maternal migration. I show how stayers in regions with high levels of migration can become persuaded to condone maternal behaviour which is at odds with traditional views on gender roles and the importance of the extended family. Migration cultures are, however, not so visible in other parts of Poland or in Polish cities. The final part of the article employs the concept of migration sub-cultures – pockets of migration exposure and expertise among particular social groups. Examining the case of Wrocław, a prosperous city which might appear to be untouched by migration influences, I argue that such sub-cultures are probably more prevalent than might be assumed.

Abstract  

The study considers remittances as part of the lifeworlds of immigrants in multiple interactions with return intentions and communication with those left behind. This is an alternative view of the standard approach to remittances as a possible source of development or as a variable to be explained by family solidarity, investment projects or the reasons for return. The key dependent variable is the home orientation of immigrants as a function of remittances, return intentions and communication behaviours, measured in quantitative and typological terms. The typological analysis of home orientation diverges from the standard approach, which is in terms of high or low intensity of cross-border activities of remitting or communicating between immigrants and those they have left behind. It argues for the fact that cross-border activities combine in different ways to generate specific social types of remitting practices. The remitting behaviours of migrants are, in our approach, multidimensional, encompassing economic, social and cultural content. Three hypotheses are formulated on: 1) collective deprivation in remitting money; 2) survival–development–identification strategies of migrants’ families; and 3) higher predictability of home orientation compared to economic remitting behaviours. In this context, higher predictability means greater variation of the synthetic variable of home orientation by social, cultural and economic factors as compared to the impact of the same factors on the more abstract variable of economic remittances.

Abstract  

This article sheds light on the unintended consequences of temporary migration from Poland by combining Merton’s functional analysis with Levitt’s work on social remittances. In addition to economic remittances, Polish migrants have been bringing norms, values, practices and social capital to their communities of origin since the end of the nineteenth century. The article presents a juxtaposition of the non-material effects of earlier migration from Poland, dating from the turn of the twentieth century, with those of the contemporary era of migration from Poland since the 1990s. The analysis shows that some aspects, such as negotiating gender roles, the changing division of household labour, individualistic lifestyles, new skills and sources of social capital, and changing economic rationalities are constantly being transferred by migrants from destination to origin communities. Contemporary digital tools facilitate these transfers and contribute to changing norms and practices in Polish society. The article demonstrates that migration fulfils specific functions for particular sections of Polish society by replacing some functions of the communist state (e.g., cash assistance and loans from communist factories, factory and post-coop cultures) and by facilitating their adaptation to changing conditions (e.g., changing gender relations, new models of family, job aspirations and social mobility).

Abstract  

This article investigates the post-return experiences of highly skilled Belarusian professionals. I concentrate on the socio-cultural aspects of highly skilled migration and view returnees as carriers of new experiences, ideas, and practices by studying the ways in which they apply various socio-cultural remittances to the different spheres of their lives. In particular, I argue that the formation and transmission of socio-cultural remittances are strongly heterogeneous and selective processes, which manifest themselves to varying degrees not only in different people, but also in different aspects of people’s lives. The analysis of several socio-cultural remittances in private and public spheres shows that in some cases the socio-cultural remittances display strong gender differences. Moreover, the highly skilled returnees appear to be proactive remitters: some of them re-interpret and transform the socio-cultural remittances before transmitting them. The research draws on the analysis of 43 in-depth interviews with highly skilled professionals who returned to Belarus after long periods of time spent abroad.

Abstract  

This article deals with the issue of home-country receptivity towards social remittances from the professional diaspora. Social remittances from the highly skilled depend on a favourable context for knowledge and skills transfer in their home countries, a context that could be summarised by the term ‘country receptivity’. This article is based on the case of Lithuania. The data comes from a series of semi-structured interviews with members of the skilled diaspora and representatives of institutions that are involved in programmes targeted at the diaspora. The analysis reveals several groups of obstacles to successful knowledge and skills transfer that may be understood as issues of country receptivity: mistrust of government by diaspora members, expressed as a belief that it is not interested in results and thus involvement of the diaspora, but rather in pursuing particular political objectives; lack of openness towards other experiences (unwillingness of institutions at different levels and in various fields to open up to new opinions, approaches and experiences brought by Lithuanians from abroad); bureaucratic and institutional impediments (inability of institutions to adapt their procedures in the interests of cooperation; slowness and ineffectiveness when dealing with requests or reacting to initiatives from the diaspora); and a perceived negative opinion (unwelcoming attitude) in society towards Lithuanians from abroad. The interviews also provide some tentative evidence of a ‘feedback loop’, through which the involvement of the diaspora causes changes in the home-country institutions. In the discussion part of the article, possible causes and implications of these obstacles are considered.

Abstract  

The process of social remitting is complex and multilayered, and involves numerous social actors that at each stage face several choices. By definition, the process of socially remitting ideas, codes of behaviour and practices starts with the migrants themselves and their social context in the destination country. This paper focuses on the as yet unexplored issue of resistance performed and articulated by migrants confronted with potential change influenced by social remittances and the generalised process of diffusion. Faithful to the understanding of social remittances as ultimately a process where individual agency is the crucial determinant, the article follows the ideas, practices and values travelling across the transnational social field between Britain and various localities in Poland. Resistance to change and new ways of doing things is a continuous dialogical process within one culture’s power field, which is understood here in anthropological terms as a porous, open-ended field of competing meanings and discourses. Notions of bifocality, infra-politics of power relations and resistance are an important aspect of remittances and their reinterpretations, and resistance to social remittances by migrants, both in their destinations and in their communities of origin, is a crucial component of the whole process without which our understanding of remittances is incomplete.

Abstract  

The aim of this article is to provide an empirical test of the model of non-economic transfers by migrants such as values, attitudes, behaviours, lifestyles, transnational social networks, know-how, skills and knowledge. The first part of the article discusses the current state of Polish society, identifies the direction of social change in Poland since 1989 and analyses the mutual dependency between social change and migration. The second section offers the analytical model and describes how existing empirical data from official statistics and research reports as well as the author’s own research projects have been analysed. The crucial element of the model is the notion of ‘closure’, defined as any factor that makes the migrants’ non-economic transfers difficult or impossible. Within each of the three categories of closure – socio-economic, cultural and psycho-social – more specific barriers to non-economic transfers are tested, e.g., lack of cohesive policy towards return migrants, social narratives on migration or ‘homecomer syndrome’. The analysis leads to the conclusion that, however difficult the measurement of the impact of return migration on social change at this stage, return migrants’ transfers are accelerating the process of social change in Poland towards the model of well-developed, post-modern Western societies, whereas closures impede this process. 

Book Reviews

Extract  

Migrants As Agents of Change makes a significant contribution to the existing theoretical, methodological and empirical literature on social remittances. Several international conferences and workshops on social remittances have taken place in recent years, and this is currently one of the most fruitful areas of migration research. The conferences have been particularly exciting because they brought together researchers working on sending and receiving countries, or on both, as in the case of Migrants As Agents of Change. This is a welcome development in view of the frequent separation between the two halves of migration studies.

Extract  

London the Promised Land Revisited (2015), edited by Anne Kershen, comes as a timely continuation of London the Promised Land? The Migrant Experience in a Capital City (1997), the first volume in the series on ‘Migration and Diaspora’, edited by the same author. This second edited collection continues to trace the impact of immigration on London by exploring a set of trends that construct the intensity and diversity of its contemporary landscape, this time relying on an almost completely new set of contributors.

 

Extract  

It has been a long-standing criticism of migration scholarship that despite the increasing interest in the topic, the phenomenon of international migration remains under-theorised (Davis 1988; Schmitter-Heisler 1992). Other major and still valid criticisms are also regularly raised in connection to such customarily adopted essentialising and unquestioned distinctions as those between internal and international, or skilled and unskilled migration (Smith, Favell 2006). Brad K. Blitz’s Migration and Freedom: Mobility, Citizenship and Exclusion is a much-needed contribution to the scholarly literature addressing these deficiencies, providing a ground-breaking synthesis of legal scholarship, qualitative empirical analysis and social theorising.