Should I Stay or Should I Go? Polish transnational migration and the limitations of the rational actor model. John Eade. CRONEM Surrey/Roehampton

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1 Should I Stay or Should I Go? Polish transnational migration and the limitations of the rational actor model John Eade CRONEM Surrey/Roehampton

2 Rational Actor Paradigm: Political Discourse British political debates concerning internal labour migration since 1979 neo-liberalism, individual interest, rational calculation and get on your bike Those staying in areas of high employment the importance on non- material factors, such as social and cultural ties, emotional intimacy

3 Migration to Britain and the Numbers Game Political debates about immigration had another focus on rational calculation how many were here and how many more could come? Yet debates driven by more than materialist means/ends considerations M. Thatcher s 1979 swamping speech and subsequent debates about integration and social cohesion : belonging, commitment, patriotism and citizenship

4 EU Labour Market and Migration Analysis The collapse of the Iron Curtain, preparing for 2004 and the limits of nation-state controls Migration analysis dominated by emphasis on material calculations by individuals about choosing to stay or return

5 Calculating Non-Material Factors and Beyond Rational Calculation Linked to the numbers game and impact on local labour markets not just in traditional urban centres Ignores the importance of calculating social and cultural factors which involve feelings (affectual( action) and non-reflexive influences

6 ESRC Study 23 F, 27 M 28% below 25 58% % 40 up 22% high edu,, 68% sec y edu,, 10% students 28% rural, 40% below 50k town, 32% 50k up

7 Chain Migration and Social Ties 60% had arranged employment/accommodation or useful tips for newcomers (migration chain brokers) 40% had received such help at the beginning Polish end of the research growing readiness to migrate

8 Transnational Europeans Calculating Economic and Social Changes in Both Countries Circular, temporal, open-ended ended migrations 80% made frequent (sometimes up to 10 times a year) visits to Poland checking out the situation 70% of respondents maintained strong economic and life interest in their home community 24% bought or were just about to buy a

9 Storks circular migrants who are found mostly in low paid occupations (catering, construction industry, domestic service) They include different types of seasonal migrants farmers commuting to London s building sites in winter students working during the summer in the catering industry in London to pay for their tuition fees in Poland others working in London but returning to their Polish universities, sometimes twice a month.

10 Storks Usually stay between 2 and 6 months Mostly arrange employment and accommodation through their Polish relatives or friends Tend to be clustered in dense Polish social networks which sometimes encourage suspicion and competition between co- ethnics.

11 Hamsters Treat their move as a one-off off act to acquire enough capital to invest in Poland Compared with Storks their stays in the UK are longer and uninterrupted. Like Storks, they tend to treat their migration as only a capital-raising activity

12 Hamsters They also tend to cluster in particular low-earning occupations and are often embedded in Polish networks See their migration as a source of social mobility back home Storks and hamsters comprise only 36% of those interviews

13 Searchers (42%) those who keep their options deliberately open This group consists predominantly of young, individualistic and ambitious migrants They occupy a range of occupational positions from low-earning to highly skilled and professional jobs They emphasise the unpredictability of their migratory plans a strategy we have termed intentional unpredictability

14 Stayers (22%) those who have been in the UK for some time and intend to remain for good This group also represents respondents with strong social mobility ambitions Only group which explicitly stresses the existence of social class in Britain and its role in determining social mobility

15 Developments Return migration apparently about half have gone back as expected but half still remain! We would expect most remaining to come from the Stayers and Searchers need for diachronic research

16 Developments Explanation for staying/returning can be found in rational choice and material factors (i.e. economic changes in both countries) Yet, social and cultural capital also involved as well as emotional ties to people and places

17 Limitations of Rational Calculating Actor Model: Methodology and Reflexivity Indecision may be due to other factors such as methodological problem of asking people to reflect on their future Related to feelings which may be difficult to express/reflect on Familiar problem of gap between what people say and do

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