Social Network Evolution during Long-term Migration: A comparison of three case studies in the South Wales region

Julie Knight, Andrew Thompson, John Lever

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    Abstract

    Ten years after Poland joined the European Union (EU), a sizable number of the once considered short-term migrants that entered the United Kingdom (UK) post-2004 have remained. From the literature, it is known that when initially migrating, social networks, composed of family and friends, are used to facilitate migration. Later, migrants’ social networks may evolve to include local, non-ethnic members of the community. Through these networks, migrants may access new opportunities within the local economy. They also serve to socialise newcomers in the cultural modalities of life in the destination country. However, what if migrants’ social networks do not evolve or evolve in a limited manner? Is cultural integration still possible under these conditions? Using data collected from three case studies in the South Wales region –Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil & Llanelli- from 2008-2012, the aim of this article is to compare Polish migrants’ social network usage, or lack thereof, over time. This comparison will be used to understand how these social networks can be catalysts and barriers for cultural integration. The findings point to the migrants’ varied use of their local social networks, which is dependent upon their language skill acquisition and their labour market mobility in the destination country.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-70
    JournalSocial Identities
    Volume23
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017

    Keywords

    • Cultural integration
    • EU migration
    • social networks

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