Rethinking spatial assimilation and whiteness: the internal migration of ethnic Polish people in England and Wales

William Shankley, University of Manchester
Nissa Finney, University of St Andrews
Mark Brown, University of Manchester
James Rhodes, University of Manchester
Kitty Lymperopoulou, University of Manchester

The number of Polish migrants that moved to Britain has been an unexpected consequence of the European Union’s expansion and has ethnically diversified the population. The scale of the migration has been a salient concern for multiple parties (Policy makers, politicians, housing providers) for a number of reasons. Firstly, Polish migrants have moved to reception places that include suburban and rural neighbourhoods that often do not have the capacity to support the new migrant population. Secondly, unlike urban and gateway neighbourhoods, the new neighbourhoods have limited experience of migration. Arguably, whilst there has been a focus on the new areas to which Polish migrants have moved, very little is known about their subsequent internal moves. The direction and the factors that shape Polish migrant’s internal migration are vital to multiple stakeholders and expose new questions about whiteness and how it is utilised and performed in these places that could enhance our understanding of the linkages between place and ethnicity. The paper will use a mixed-methods research design to look at the direction of Polish internal migrants in England as well as the factors that shape their internal migration decisions. Census 2011 micro-data will be used to analyse the characteristics of Polish internal movers as well as commissioned origin-destination tables that will be used to analyse whether counter-urbanisation is occurring and if Polish migrants are moving to more ethnically diverse or concentrated areas. To compliment the quantitative findings, in-depth semi-structured interviews will be used from two case-study sites in Greater Manchester to gain a more nuanced understanding of the factors that shape Polish internal migration decisions. The paper will engage with the theoretical discussions of place and ethnicity established from the spatial assimilation and segmented assimilation theory and their relevance and application for a new ethnically white migrant group in England.

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Presented in Session 83: Migrants on the labour market