2015 | 41 | 3 (157) | 139–156
Article title

Continuity Versus Innovation: Young Polish Migrants and Practices of ‘Doing Family’ in the Context of Achieving Independence in the UK

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This paper explores continuity and innovation in the everyday relational practices of a group of post-accession Polish migrants who first arrived in the UK when in their late teens and twenties. In the context of claims that migration has allowed younger migrants to pursue lives free from familial ties and responsibilities, the paper focuses on their living arrangements in the UK and the extent to which they actively eschew or embrace familial relationships, practices and commitments. Our data suggest that moving to the UK had undoubtedly facilitated new freedoms and opportunities, yet these were utilised by many to bring forward, rather than delay, a sequence of broadly conventional domestic transitions, accompanied for many by ongoing dependency and interconnectedness with networks of extended family members who had also migrated to the UK. Our paper draws on the concepts of frontiering and relativising (Bryceson and Vuorela 2002) and argues that our participants were engaged in sets of practices linked to both. Further, these practices not only entailed a continual revision of migrants’ sense of family identity, affected by life stage, but were also underpinned for many by the centrality of traditional conceptualisations of family.
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Glasgow
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