Anti-Polish Migrant Moral Panic in the UK: Rethinking Employment Insecurities and Moral Regulation
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This article examines British societal reactions to Polish migrant workers using a framework that combines recent developments of the moral panic concept informed by the sociology of moral regulation and risk governance studies. Given the multi-mediated nature of contemporary moral panics and in contrast to conventional analysis focusing on newspaper coverage this article is based on Polish migrants’ self-reported experiences. Moral panic claims making about Polish workers ‘taking British jobs’ and ‘abusing British social benefits’ are perceived by the respondents themselves. Our analysis is in line with Sean Hier’s conceptualisations of the interplay between individualised risk management and moral panic claims-making, which are manifestations of conflictual sites of the contemporary neo-liberal project of prudentialism. The article argues that the anti-Polish migrant campaign in Britain after 2004, which dramatised Polish migrants as ‘stealing the jobs’ of the native population, cannot be properly analysed as an irrational ethnic bias or an elite-engineering panic but is rather an expression of the destabilising effects of employment insecurities within Western risk societies.
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