Dignity, happiness and being able to live a 'normal life' in the UK - an examination of post-accession Polish migrants' transnational autobiographical fields

Derek McGhee, Sue Heath, Paulina Trevena

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Abstract

This article examines data from a qualitative study of post-accession Polish migrants living in the UK. We examine themes from our interviews such as 'dignity', 'normality', 'happiness' and the 'affordability' and 'ease' of life in the UK (compared to Poland). We focus on the autobiographical or intra-personal discursive practices that define what Habib calls migrants' continuing relationship with their 'homeland'. We draw on Emirbayer and Mische's analysis of the relationship between 'agency' and what they call 'embedded temporalities' to examine the interaction between our participants' recollections of life in Poland and their evaluation of their present lives in the UK in order to examine the impact of these on their future plans (to stay in the UK or return to Poland). We locate this analysis in what we call a transnational autobiographical field which is a modification of what Levitt and Glick Schiller call a transnational social field. Rather than examine, for example, how decisions to migrate, settle and re-migrate are embedded in inter or trans-personal social relations and networks, in this article we examine the self-dynamics associated with our participants' articulation of their intra-personal and autobiographical embedded temporalities. Our argument is that articulations of individuals' pasts, presents and anticipated futures are also significant factors shaping their migration, settlement, and re-migration decisions. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-727
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Identities
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Keywords

  • autobiography
  • everyday consumption
  • intra-personal
  • normality
  • Poland
  • temporality
  • transnationalism

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