Humanities and Social Sciences

Central Eastern European Migration Review


Central Eastern European Migration Review | 2016 | Vol. 5 | No 1 |

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The article provides a sociological analysis of national identities of Polish children growing up in Nor-way. The research results presented are unique in the sense that the portrayals of national identifica-tions constructed in the process of migration are shown through direct experiences of children. The analysis is based on semi-structured interviews with children, observation in the research situation (children’s rooms) and Sentence Completion Method. Adopting Antonina Kłoskowska’s analytical framework of national identity and her terminology of the so called ‘cultural valence’ (adoption of cul-ture), we argue that identities are processual and constructed, a result of the fact that mobility took place at a certain moment in time and in a specific geographical space. In addition, we see identities as conditioned by a plethora of identifiable objective and subjective reasons. The intensified mobility of children due to labour migrations of their parents leads to multiple challenges within the (re)construc-tions of children’s identities in their new place of settlement.

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Authors and Affiliations

Krystyna Slany
Stella Strzemecka
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This paper addresses the issue of language and belonging in the transnational context of migration. It draws on two research projects with first-generation children of Polish labour migrants in Scotland. The paper examines the role that language plays in fostering multiple ways of being and belonging, and in understanding how children make sense of their identity. It suggests that language should take a more central place in debates about cultural connectivity and transnational migration. Findings point to the need for a more holistic approach to supporting migrant children, including the explicit recognition of family cultural and language capital in the host society.

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Authors and Affiliations

Marta Moskal
Daniela Sime
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The issue of the educational system remains one of the crucial areas for the discussions pertaining to migrants’ integration and contemporary multicultural societies. Ever since the inception of compulsory schooling, children and youth have partaken in largely state-governed socialisation in schools, which provide not only knowledge and qualifications, but are also responsible for transferring the culture and values of a given society. Under this premise, the schooling system largely determines opportunities available to migrant children. This paper seeks to address the questions about the pathways to youth Polish migrant integration, belonging and achievement (or a lack thereof) visible in the context of the Norwegian school system. The paper draws on 30 interviews conducted in 2014 with Polish parents raising children abroad, and concentrates on the features of Norwegian school as seen through the eyes of Polish parents. Our findings show that the educational contexts of both sending and receiving socie-ties are of paramount importance for the understanding of family and parenting practices related to children’s schooling. In addition, we showcase the significance of Norwegian schools for children’s integration, illuminate the tensions in parental narratives and put the debates in the context of a more detailed analysis of the relations between school and home environments of migrant children. The paper relies on parental narratives in an attempt to trace and reflect the broader meanings of children’s education among Poles living abroad.

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Authors and Affiliations

Magdalena Ślusarczyk
Paula Pustułka
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Based on a study of Polish migrants living in England and Scotland, this paper explores how Polish families who have decided to bring up their children in the UK make initial school choices. The Polish parents taking part in our study generally had low levels of social and cultural capital (Bourdieu 1986) upon arrival in the UK: they had limited networks (predominantly bonding capital) (Putnam 2000) and a poor command of English, and lacked basic knowledge of the British education system. Meanwhile, this is a highly complex system, very much different from the Polish one; moreover, school choice plays a much more important role within the UK system, especially at the level of secondary education. We found that while some parents acted as ‘disconnected choosers’ (Gewirtz, Ball and Bowe 1995) follow-ing the strategy they would use in Poland and simply enrolling their children in the nearest available school, others attempted to make an informed choice. In looking for schools, parents first and foremost turned to co-ethnic networks for advice and support; nevertheless, parents who attempted to make an informed choice typically lacked ‘insider knowledge’ and often held misconceptions about the British education system. The one feature of the system Polish parents were very much aware of, however, was the existence of Catholic schools; therefore, religious beliefs played a key role in school choice among Polish parents (with some seeking and others avoiding Catholic schools). The ‘active choosers’ also made choices based on first impressions and personal beliefs about what was best for their child (e.g. in terms of ethnic composition of the school) or allowed their children to make the choice. Parents of disabled children were most restricted in exercising school choice, as only certain schools cater for complex needs. All in all, the Polish parents in our sample faced similar barriers to BME (Black Minor-ity Ethnic) parents in exercising school choice in the UK and, regardless of their own levels of education, their school selection strategies resembled those of the British working class rather than of the middle class. However, the risk of ‘bad’ initial school choice may be largely offset by a generally strong pref-erence for Catholic schools and parents’ high educational ambitions for their children.

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Authors and Affiliations

Paulina Trevena
Derek McGhee
Sue Heath
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Poles are today the largest group of family immigrants to Norway. Since Polish immigration is an intra-Euro-pean movement of labour, there are no specific laws or regulations, apart from labour regulations, pertaining to the introduction of Polish families to Norway and their settlement there. Consequently, there are few guidelines in schools and local authorities on dealing with Polish children in school. They receive the same introduction to school as immigrants from any other background, with no considera-tion of the specific characteristics of Poles. Equally, their parents are not eligible for the orientation courses and language classes that are offered to adult asylum seekers or refugees. As these are expen-sive, many Polish parents postpone language classes until they can afford them or find alternative ways of learning language and culture. In this article, I explore the inclusion of Polish children in Norwegian schools through the voices of teachers receiving Polish children in their classrooms and Polish mothers of children attending school in Norway. Interviews with both teachers and mothers reveal inadequate understandings of each other’s conceptions of school, education and the roles of home and school in the education of children. They also demonstrate a limited understanding of culturally bound interpre-tations of each other’s actions. Although both sides are committed to the idea of effective integration, we risk overlooking the social and academic challenges that Polish children face in Norwegian schools unless conceptions and expectations of school and education are articulated and actions are explained and contextualised. There is also a risk that cultural differences will be perceived as individual prob-lems, while real individual problems may be overlooked due to poor communication between schools and families. The data is drawn from an extended case study including classroom observations, inter-views with teachers and Polish mothers in Norway, and focus groups of educators and researchers in the field of social work.

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Authors and Affiliations

Randi Wærdahl
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This article discusses and expands on two related issues. The first is the unexplored reasons for the departure of Polish migrant women: the forced migration phenomenon. The author describes the system behind forced migration as created at the intersections not only of care, gender and migration regimes but also of legal regimes. Second, the author points out that the close relation between forced migration and the process of ‘unbecoming a wife in the transnational context’ creates a distinctive type of trans-national motherhood experience. In order to explain the specificity of these types of experiences better the author introduces a new typology of transnational motherhood biographies. The case study of Al-dona is representative of the experiences of some Polish women in the period under study, 1989–2010.

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Authors and Affiliations

Sylwia Urbańska
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This article, through the prism of immigration policy models proposed by Stephen Castles (1995), Steven Weldon (2005) and Liah Greenfeld (1998), discusses those aspects of Norwegian immigration policy that refer directly to children. Areas such as employment, education, housing and health care influence the situation of an immigrant family, which in turn affects the wellbeing of a child. However, it is the education system and the work of Child Welfare Services that most directly influence a child’s position. Analysis presented in this article is based on the White Paper to the Norwegian Parliament, and data that were obtained in expert interviews and ethnographic observation in Akershus and Buskerud area in Norway, conducted between 2012 and 2014. The article raises the question whether the tools of im-migration policy used by social workers and teachers lead to integration understood as an outcome of a pluralist or individualistic-civic model of immigration policy or are rather aimed at assimilation into Norwegian society, attempting to impose the effect of assimilation or the collectivistic-civic policy model.

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Authors and Affiliations

Karolina Nikielska-Sekuła

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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