DIVIDED BY CLASS, CONNECTED BY WORK: CLASS DIVISIONS AMONG THE NEW WAVE OF POLISH MIGRANTS IN THE UK
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By now, it is a generally known fact that the majority of ‘new’ Polish migrants to the UK are carrying out simple, low-skilled work. At the same time, however, many of these migrants have considerably high levels of education (Anderson et al. 2006, Drinkwater et al. 2006, Fihel et al. 2008, Pollard et al. 2008). Up till now, this problem has been framed predominantly in terms of issues of brain drain, brain overflow and/or brain waste (Kaczmarczyk and Okolski 2005, Kaczmarczyk 2006). However, little attention has been given to the social world the ‘overqualified’ Polish migrants are living in. For the ‘overeducated’ migrants the world of work is often also one of class divisions. The values and general outlook of these (potentially) middle-class people often clash with those of their co-workers, i.e. working class Poles and Britons, resulting in a particular tension within the social environment of work as well as internal conflict. What is, therefore, the migrants’ perception of this situation? How do they view their class position in relation to their occupational and social standing in the UK? This article will be devoted to an analysis of these issues based on qualitative material gathered on well-educated Polish migrants working considerably below their level of qualifications.
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