Humanities and Social Sciences

Central Eastern European Migration Review


Central Eastern European Migration Review | 2019 | vol. 8 | No 2 |

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This article provides a detailed review of the ethnosurvey, a research methodology that has been widely applied to the study of migration for almost four decades. We focus on the application of ethnosurvey methods in Mexico and Poland, drawing on studies done in the former country since the early 1980s and, in the latter, since the early 1990s (including several post-2004 examples). The second case is particularly relevant for our analysis as it refers to a number of novel migration forms that have been identified in Central and Eastern Europe in the post-1989 transition period. Drawing on these studies, we consider the advantages and disadvantages of the ethnosurvey as a research tool for studying inter-national migration. Its advantages include its multilevel design, blend of qualitative and quantitative methods, reliance on retrospective life histories and multisited data collection strategy. These features yield a rich database that has enabled researchers to capture circular, irregular, short-term and se-quential movements. Its disadvantages primarily stem from its hybrid sampling strategy, which neces-sarily places limits on estimation and generalisability and on the technical challenges of parallel sampling in communities of both origin and destination. Here we argue that the ethnosurvey was never proposed and should not be taken as a universal methodology applicable in all circumstances. Rather it represents a specialised tool which, when correctly applied under the right conditions, can be ex-tremely useful in revealing the social and economic mechanisms that underlie human mobility, thus yielding a fuller understanding of international migration’s complex causes and diverse consequences in both sending and receiving societies.

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Authors and Affiliations

Paweł Kaczmarczyk
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This article presents our key arguments about the usefulness of the concept of superdiversity for reimag-ining migration in European societies, based on the example of migration from Poland to the UK. We argue that, despite some criticism of ‘superdiversity’, this concept is beneficial to avoid over-simplifi-cations related to ethno-nationalised homogeneity as the prevailing ascribed feature of Polish migrants, offering a helpful lens through which the complexities and fluidity of contemporary migrant populations and receiving societies may be investigated. Our main point is that such the reimagination might be commenced through applying the concept of superdiversity in research on migrants from Poland in Great Britain. The concept of superdiversity is also beneficial to understand complexities associated with the urban contexts in which migrants settle, their adaptation pathways as well as the intersectional factors shaping migrants’ lives and experiences.

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Authors and Affiliations

Aleksandra Grzymala-Kazlowska
Jenny Phillimore
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Bulgarian migration to the UK has gradually increased since the country’s EU accession and the re-moval of barriers to free movement of labour across the EU. The sustained popularity of the UK amongst those dreaming for a fresh start through migration, despite the hostility faced by Bulgarian immigrants, poses a paradox that cannot be explained with the ‘push–pull’ and cost–benefit calculation models pre-vailing in migration research. This article proposes a more balanced understanding of migration moti-vations on the basis of would-be migrants’ own perceptions. Drawing on biographical interviews with self-ascribed ‘ordinary people’ with long-term plans for settling in the UK, I shed light on individuals’ imaginings and expectations of life after migration. Firstly, I analyse the notion of ‘survival’ through which my informants articulated frustrations with their precarious financial situation, their inferior social and symbolic positioning within society and their inability to partake in forms of consumption and lifestyle that would allow them to experience a sense of social advancement. I then explore would-be migrants’ imaginings of life in the UK (and ‘the West’) which depict an idealised ‘normality’ of life, in which they conveyed longings for security and predictability of life, social justice and working-class dignity and respectability. These insights into people’s disappointment, desperation and disillusionment with a precarious present help us to understand the continuous construction of an ‘imaginary West’ as an ideal ‘elsewhere’, in the search of which migrants are ready to undergo hardship and stigmatisation. By engaging with the existing debates in migration studies and literature on Bulgarian migration, this article exposes the deficiencies of economic reductionism, which presents migration decision-making as a conscious, rational and calculative act and, instead, demonstrates that, very often, people are led by dreams and idealisations that are reflective of their emotions and life-worlds.

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Authors and Affiliations

Polina Manolova
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Drawing on in-depth interviews with Romanian workers posted in the German construction and meat-pro-cessing industries, with representatives of German unions and with migrant advisers, and on ethno-graphic work, this study examines precarity in posted employment. Firstly, the paper describes the precarious circumstances of Romanians posted in the construction and meat-industry sectors in Ger-many. Secondly, analysing the Romanians’ own perspectives, it shows that low wages in the country of origin, often associated with insecurity and poor working conditions, drive these workers to engage in posted work. Their lack of knowledge of the German language prevents them from finding and carrying out standard jobs in Germany and, thus, determines that they remain in posted employment. Finally, the paper argues that posted workers experience different layers of precarity in the country of destination. It shows that those under contract with various companies for short periods of time are more precarious than de facto posted workers and workers with long-term informal agreements with one single employer.

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Authors and Affiliations

Alexandra Voivozeanu
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The use of welfare support by EU migrants has dominated media coverage and political debates about EU migration in the UK for several years, regularly featuring claims about the negative effects of the presence of EU migrants on the UK social security system. Such claims became particularly prominent in 2013–2015, during the UK government’s campaign to limit EU migrants’ access to UK welfare benefits and in debates prior to the Brexit referendum. This article sheds light on how Polish migrants position themselves concern-ing the claiming of welfare benefits in the UK and how this affects their welfare strategies. The article is based on 14 qualitative interviews conducted in Liverpool 18 months after the Brexit referendum. Using stigma and benefits stigma as an overall theoretical framework, we find that the informants, in their posi-tioning narratives, 1) put forward similar stigmatising expressions and stereotypes regarding the use of wel-fare as those featured by politicians and the media, which points to perceived abuse; 2) make a distinction between in-work and out-of-work benefits, the first being more acceptable than the second; 3) prefer living on savings or accepting ‘any job’ over making use of out-of-work benefits, which points to an underuse and/or to possible processes of marginalisation; and 4), a tendency among those who have experience with claiming out-of-work benefits to question the discourses of welfare abuse. Finally, ‘working’ and ‘contrib-uting’ to the system as opposed to relying on welfare support is perceived as a precondition to staying in the UK after Brexit – welfare and work are seen to signal very high stakes indeed.

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Authors and Affiliations

Mateus Schweyher
Gunhild Odden
Kathy Burrell
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This article looks at the mobility of highly skilled female migrants from the perspective of the post-socialist semi-peripheral countries in Eastern Europe. It analyses chosen aspects of the biographical experiences of highly skilled women from three post-USSR republics bordering the European Union – namely Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia – in Poland, a post-socialist country itself but also an EU member-state. The empirical analysis focuses on their lifestyle changes and choices, made through the experience of living in a new, though quite familiar Polish culture, which is both more emancipated (Western) while, at the same time, pertaining to some of the familiar (Eastern) patterns. Due to this liminal nature of the host country, the adaptation process of migrants is easier and comes at a lower biographical cost. In the analysis, I explore two notions: the gender roles renegotiation and the changes in the women’s approach towards the external manifestations of femininity, which I contrast with their reflections of the changes undergone. As for the gender role renegotiation, three main approaches were described varying by the degree to which the old, familiar patterns are maintained. In terms of the external notions of femininity, while taking care of one’s looks is still an observable element of the migrants’ identity, they do take advantage of the wider spectrum of options available in the host society, and try to blend in with the casual big-city crowd. The article was written on the basis of empirical material in the form of twenty in-depth, unstructured interviews, which were confronted with the selected subject literature.

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Authors and Affiliations

Anna Dolińska
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Return migration has been increasingly gaining prominence in migration research as well as in migration policies across the world. However, in some regions, such as the Caucasus, the phenomenon of return mi-gration is little explored despite its significance for the region. Based on 64 interviews with returnees and key informants together with additional online surveys with Armenian migrants, this study discusses im-portant issues about return and reintegration with policy implications. It covers voluntary returnees as well as the participants of the assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes and presents the case for a multiplicity of the return migration motivations and experiences which are dependent on the return pre-paredness and the strategies which the returnees use.

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Authors and Affiliations

Lucie Macková
Jaromír Harmáček
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The article presents an analysis of the real role of the complementarity principle and the reasons why immi-gration law is still based on this principle. The basic assumptions of the state’s attitude towards labour im-migration were set out in a period when this kind of immigration to Poland was at a much smaller scale than currently. First and foremost, one of the basic premises is the complementarity of labour immigration (com-plementarity principle) with the labour market test as an element of the procedures, although with some exceptions. The mechanism of controlling the complementarity is obligatory and preventive. The current economic situation in Poland, including the conditions for the functioning of immigration law, is very differ-ent from the reality of that time. In view of growing shortages of Polish employees on the labour market one can doubt whether preventive enforcement of complementarity by law is needed. The complementarity of labour immigration to Poland is a socio-economic fact and legal guarantees to ensure this result seem ob-solete. There are strong arguments to consider that opportunistic political motivations are the main reason against the rationalisation of legal regulations concerning immigration of workers. The complementarity principle has become a facade of restrictive immigration law, while allowing for its use in a way that ensures the access of immigrants to the labour market.

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Authors and Affiliations

Paweł Dąbrowski

Editorial office


Marek Okólski (Uniwersytet Warszawski, Szkoła Wyższa Psychologii Społecznej)
Olga Chudinovskikh (Moscow State Lomonosow University, Higher School of Economics)
Barbara Dietz (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies in Regensburg, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA))
Boris Divinský (Bratislava)
Dušan Drbohlav (Charles University in Prague)
Elżbieta Goździak (Georgetown University, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza)
Agnes Hars (KOPINT-TARKI Economic Research Institute Ltd)
Romuald Jończy (Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu)
Paweł Kaczmarczyk (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Olga Kupets (National University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’)
Solange Maslowski (Charles University in Prague)
Ewa Morawska (University of Essex)
Mirjana Morokvasic (University Paris X-Nanterre, Institute for Social Sciences of Politics in Paris)
Jan Pakulski (University of Tasmania, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia)
Dorota Praszałowicz (Uniwersytet Jagielloński)
Krystyna Romaniszyn (Uniwersytet Jagielloński)
John Salt (University College London)
Dumitru Sandu (University of Bucharest)
Krystyna Slany (Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza)
Dariusz Stola (Polska Akademia Nauk, Collegium Civitas)
Cezary Żołędowski (Uniwersytet Warszawski)


Aleksandra Grzymała-Kazłowska (Uniwersytet Warszawski) - redaktor naczelny
Piotr Koryś (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Yana Leontiyeva (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)
Magdalena Lesińska (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Stefan Markowski (University of New South Wales in Australia)
Justyna Nakonieczna (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Joanna Nestorowicz (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Aneta Piekut (University of Sheffield)
Paolo Ruspini (International Migration University of Lugano)
Brygida Solga (Politechnika Opolska)
Paweł Strzelecki (Szkoła Główna Handlowa)
Anne White (University of Bath)
Renata Stefańska (Uniwersytet Warszawski) - sekretarz Redakcji



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Stola D. (1998). Migrations in Central and Eastern Europe. International Migration Review 32(124): 1069-1072.

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Piekut A., Rees P., Valentine G., Kupiszewski M. (in print). Multidimensional diversity in two European cities: thinking beyond ethnicity. Environment and Planning A.

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Górny A. (2005). New phenomena and old legislation: regulations regarding the acquisition of citizenship in Poland. Online: (accessed: 21 January 2013).

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