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Abstract  

This article analyses the strategies of adaptation used by highly skilled Latvian migrants to make the best of their situation abroad. As empirical data, 26 semi-structured in-depth interviews with highly skilled Latvian nationals in finances, management, IT and the health sector are analysed. The study reveals how migrants negotiate the value of their cultural capital in the new country’s labour market. Different adaptation strategies are typical for the pre-migration phase, the phase of transition and initial settlement and of establishment in the host country. The main conclusion of the study is that pre-migration cultural capital (education, work experience, language knowledge and general and specific skills) is important but not sufficient to be successful in new country’s labour market – in the UK, Germany, Norway and the USA. The labour-market outcomes are a result of the interplay between migrants’ individual resources and decisions on extensive investments in country-specific human capital and structural constraints – such as typical recruitment patterns in a particular occupation and host country.

 

Abstract  

The security of asylum-seekers in the context of conditions of reception has not been frequently researched. This article aims to fill this gap by arguing that asylum-seekers in Poland are stuck in a grey zone between being secure and being securitised by the host society, with little opportunity to use their own agency. The basis for my study is the theory of the Welsh School of Critical Security Studies which focuses on understanding security through emancipation. The methodology contains a structural analysis of the reception system through the lenses of the agency–structure relationship and a legal and institutional study, as well as an in-depth examination of security practices combined with a reconstruction critique. The results show that the Polish reception system is a structure which is highly asymmetrical in relations of power, especially in the fundamental case of setting a security agenda. This thus constitutes a substantial constraint on migrants’ agency – with some potential for emancipation, however. In conclusion, the research points out the discrepancy between elements of the reception system driven by principles of liberal democracy and the nation-state and calls for a more inclusive, empowering and participatory security provision within the reception system in Poland.