‘We stick to ourselves’: the interaction between social and human capitals amongst post-accession Poles in Southampton

Thursday, June 27, 2013
D1.18A (Oudemanhuispoort)
Derek McGhee , Sociology, Social Policy and Applied Social Sciences Division, University of Southampton
Post-accession Polish migrants’ preference for close-knit kin-ship networks has been observed in our fieldwork in Southampton (and numerous other studies in the UK). In this paper we will examine some of the rhetoric and practices that are associated with these network preferences in terms of what Pietka (in her study based in Glasgow) calls post-accession Poles’ dichotomous perceptions of other migrant Poles and their tendency to migrate to, or with, close friends and family members in the UK. We shall also examine post-accession Poles’ tendency (also observed by Gill in Lancashire) of avoiding the established Polish institutions set up by post war Poles and their descendants. Following Ryan (2008) we focus on the social capital implications of our participants’ social network preferences and practices in the context of their limited human capital (as English speakers). Most of our participants are not competent English speakers; they also have few opportunities to improve their English because they told us ‘they live with Poles, work with Poles, buy food in Polish shops and watch Polish TV’. We conclude that the interaction of our participants’ relationships to post-accession and ‘established’ co-ethnics and their limited contact with non-Polish groups in Southampton could lead to them being deprived of the ‘network mediated benefits’ which could exist beyond their immediate family and close circle of friends (Portes 2010).

Policy questions: what will this mean for the 0.5 generation of post-accession Poles? Will this lead to the inter-generational transmission of disadvantage and a lack of ethnic capital?

  • A8 Poles_McGhee et al_ June 2013_CES paper.docx (78.8 kB)