Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2018 | 7 | 1 | 73-90

Article title

Exploring Potentialities of (Health)Care in Glasgow and Beyond: Negotiations of Social Security Among Czech- and Slovak-Speaking Migrants



Title variants

Languages of publication



This paper draws on an anthropological perspective on social security to explore the complex ways in which Czech- and Slovak-speaking migrants living in Glasgow negotiated their healthcare concerns and built security in the city and beyond. It is based on 12 months of ethnographic research conducted in 2012 with migrants who moved to Glasgow after 2004. Inquiring into healthcare issues and the resulting insecurities from the migrants’ perspective and in their everyday lives, the paper demonstrates how these issues were largely informed by migrants’ experiences of ‘uncaring care’ in Glasgow, rather than due to their lack of knowledge or understanding of the Scottish/UK health system. Furthermore, the findings reveal how these migrants drew on multiple resources and forms of support and care – both locally and transnationally – in order to mitigate and overcome their health problems. At the same time, the analysis also highlights constraints and limitations to the actors’ care negotiations, thus going beyond a functional approach to social security, which tends to overlook instances of ‘unsuccessful’ or unrealised care arrangements. In conclusion, I propose that migrants’ care negotiations can be best understood as an ongoing process of exploring potentialities of care by actively and creatively opening up, probing, rearranging and trying out sources of support and care in their efforts to deal with perceived risks and insecurities in their everyday lives.




  • Basch L., Glick Schiller N., Szanton Blanc C. (1994). Transnational Project: A New Perspective, in: L. Basch, N. Glick Schiller, C. Szanton Blanc (eds), Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Post-Colonial Predicaments, and De-Territorialized Nation-States, pp. 1–21. Langhorne, PA: Gordon and Breach.
  • Bentley P., Faulkner K., Borland S. (2015). Ministers Order Urgent Investigation into ‘Completely Unacceptable’ Revelations Foreigners Are Charging the NHS for Care in Their OWN Country. The Daily Mail, 9 August, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3191557/Foreigners-charge-NHS-ca....
  • Bowater D. (2010). Now Poles Get Free Abortions on NHS. The Daily Express, 16 March, http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/163198/Now-Poles-get-free-abortions-on-NHS.
  • Bryndová L., Pavloková K., Roubal T., Rokosová M., Gaskins M. (2009). The Czech Republic: Health Review System. Health Systems in Transition 11(1): 1–118.
  • Chapman J. (2013). The TRUE Cost of Health Tourism: Foreigners Using NHS Cost Britain up to £2BILLION a Year, Government Report Reveals... up to 100 Times More Than Thought. The Daily Mail, 22 October, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2470994/TRUE-cost-health-tourism... (accessed: 14 May 2018).
  • Constant A. F., García-Muñoz T., Neuman S., Neuman T. (2015). A ‘Healthy Immigrant Effect’ or a ‘Sick Immigrant Effect’? Selection and Policies Matter. IZA Discussion Paper Series No. 9338. Bonn: Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit – Institute for the Study of Labor.
  • Creswell J. W. (2003). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Method Approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Davidson L. (2017). Unhealthy Tourism. Top Doc Warns of Eastern Europeans ‘Coming to UK to Give Birth, Claim Benefits Then Go Home’. The Sun, 22 February, https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/2922988/top-doc-warns-of-eastern-europea... (accessed: 14 May 2018).
  • de Lima P., Wright S. (2009). Welcoming Migrants? Migrant Labour in Rural Scotland. Social Policy and Society 8(3): 391–404.
  • Derose K. P., Escarce J. J., Lurie N. (2007). Immigrants and Health Care: Sources of Vulnerability. Health Affairs 26(5): 1258–1268.
  • Favell A. (2009). Immigration, Migration, and Free Movement in the Making of Europe, in: J. T. Checke, P. J. Katzenstein (eds), European Identity, pp. 167–189. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Garapich P. M. (2010). The Unwanted: Social and Cultural Determinants of Homelessness and Alcohol Abuse Among Eastern European Migrants in London. CRONEM research report. London: Roehampton University.
  • Giuntella O., Nicodemo C., Vargas Silva C. (2015). The Effects of Immigration on NHS Waiting Times. BSG Working Paper Series. Oxford: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.
  • Glick Schiller N., Çağlar A. (2009). Towards a Comparative Theory of Locality in Migration Studies: Migrant Incorporation and City Scale. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35(2): 177–202.
  • Goodwin R., Polek E., Goodwin K. (2012). Perceived Changes in Health and Interactions with ‘the Paracetamol Force’: A Multimethod Study. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 7(2): 152–172.
  • Guma T. (2015). Everyday Negotiations of In/securities and Risks: An Ethnographic Study Amongst Czech- and Slovak-Speaking Migrants in Glasgow. Unpublished PhD thesis. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.
  • Guma T. (2018). The Making of a ‘Risk Population’: Categorisations of Roma and Ethnic Boundary-Making Among Czech- and Slovak-Speaking Migrants in Glasgow. Identities, 26 February, doi: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1441690.
  • Hanefeld J., Horsfall D., Lunt N., Smith R. (2013). Medical Tourism: A Cost or Benefit to the NHS? PLoS One, 8 (10). Online: http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.13... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Healthwatch Reading (2014). How the Recent Migrant Polish Community Are Accessing Healthcare Services, With a Focus on Primary and Urgent Care Services. Online: http://healthwatchreading.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Polish-Community-Acc... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Horton B. S. (2013). Medical Returns as Class Transformation: Situating Migrants’ Medical Returns Within a Framework of Transnationalism. Medical Anthropology 32(5): 417–432.
  • Horton B. S., Cole S. (2011). Medical Returns: Seeking Health Care in Mexico. Social Science Medicine 72(11): 1846–1852.
  • Kangas B. (2007). Hope From Abroad in the International Medical Travel of Yemeni Patients. Anthropology and Medicine 14(3): 293–305.
  • Kay R. (2011). (Un)Caring Communities: Processes of Marginalisation and Access to Formal and Informal Care and Assistance in Rural Russia. Journal of Rural Studies 27(1): 45–53.
  • Lakasing E., Mirza A. Z. (2009). The Health of Britain’s Polish Migrants: A Suitable Case for History Taking and Examination. British Journal of General Practice 59(559): 138–139.
  • Leaman A. M., Rysdale E., Webber R. (2006). Use of the Emergency Department by Polish Migrant Workers. Emergency Medicine Journal 23(12): 918–919.
  • Lee Y. J., Kearns A. R., Friesen W. (2010). Seeking Affective Health Care: Korean Immigrants’ Use of Homeland Medical Services. Health and Place 16(1): 108–115.
  • Lindenmeyer A., Redwood S., Griffith L., Ahmed S., Phillimore J. (2016). Recent Migrants’ Perspectives on Antibiotic Use and Prescribing in Primary Care: A Qualitative Study. British Journal of General Practice 66(652): e802–e809.
  • Lunt N., Smith R., Exworthy M., Green S., Horsfall D., Mannion R. (2011). Medical Tourism: Treatments, Markets and Health System Implications: A Scoping Review. Paris: OECD.
  • Madden H., Harris J., Blickem C., Harrison R., Timpson H. (2017). ‘Always Paracetamol, They Give Them Paracetamol For Everything’: A Qualitative Study Examining Eastern European Migrants’ Experiences of the UK Health Service. BMC Health Services Research 17(1): 604.
  • Madden H., Harris J., Harrison R., Timpson H. (2014). A Targeted Health Needs Assessment of the Eastern European Population in Warrington. Liverpool: Liverpool John Moore University, Centre for Public Health (CPH).
  • Mason R., Campbell D. (2013). Temporary Migrants Cost NHS up to £2bn a Year, Says Study. The Guardian, 22 October, http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/22/temporary-migrants-nhs-co... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • McCollum D., Cook L., Chiroro C., Platts A., MacLeod F., Findlay A. (2012). Spatial, Sectoral and Temporal Trends in A8 Migration to the UK 2004–2011. Evidence From the Worker Registration Scheme. ESRC Centre for Population Change Working Paper 17. Swindon: Economic and Social Research Council.
  • Morokvasic M. (2004). ‘Settled in Mobility’: Engendering Post-Wall Migration in Europe. Feminist Review 77(1): 7–25.
  • Nábělková M. (2007). Closely-Related Languages in Contact: Czech, Slovak, ‘Czechoslovak’. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 183(1): 53–73.
  • Orchard P., Szymanski A., Vlahova N. (2007). A Community Profile of EU8 Migrants in Edinburgh and an Evaluation of Their Access to Key Services. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Social Research. Online: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/207638/0055078.pd (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Osipovič D. (2013). ‘If I Get Ill, It’s onto the Plane, and off to Poland’: Use of Health Care Services by Polish Migrants in London. Central and East European Migration Review 2(2): 98–114.
  • Phillimore J., Humphries R., Klaas F., Knecht M. (2016). Bricolage: Potential as a Conceptual Tool for Understanding Access to Welfare in Superdiverse Neighbourhoods. IRiS Working Paper Series 14. Birmingham: Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham. Online: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-po... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Poole L., Adamson K. (2008). Report on the Situation of the Roma Community in Govanhill, Glasgow. Paisley: University of West of Scotland. Online: http://www.bemis.org.uk/resources/gt/scotland/report%20on%20the%20situat... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Prederi (2013). Quantitative Assessment of Visitor and Migrant Use of the NHS in England: Exploring the Data. London: Prederi. Online: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Raphaely N., O’Moore E. (2010). Understanding the Health Needs of Migrants in the South East Region. London: Health Protection Agency and Department of Health.
  • Read R. (2007). Labour and Love: Competing Constructions of ‘Care’ in a Czech Nursing Home. Critique of Anthropology 27(2): 203–222.
  • Read R., Thelen T. (2007). Social Security and Care After Socialism: Reconfigurations of Public and Private. Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology 50(1) 3–18.
  • Robson K. (2011). The National Health Service in Scotland – Subject Profile. Edinburgh: Scottish Parliament Briefing, November 2011. Online: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S4/SB_1... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Scullion L., Morris G. (2009a). A Study of Migrant Workers in Peterborough. Salford: Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit, University of Salford. Online: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/10113/1/Final_Report_-_Peterborough_MW_June_09... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Scullion L., Morris G. (2009b). Migrant Workers in Liverpool: A Study of A8 and A2 Nationals. Salford: Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit, University of Salford. Online: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/9263/1/Liverpool_migrant_worker_report.pdf (accessed: 27 April 2018)
  • Slack J. (2016). ‘Migrants Are Pushing NHS to Breaking Point’: Top Cancer Doctor Warns Health Tourists Are Bleeding Hospitals Dry with Demand for Treatment. Mail Online, 8 Februar, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3438040/Top-cancer-doctor-warns-... (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • Sobo E. J. (2009). Medical Travel: What It Means, Why It Matters. Medical Anthropology 28(4): 326–335.
  • Stevenson B. (2007). A8 Nationals in Glasgow. Glasgow: Glasgow City Council.
  • Suárez-Orozco C., Suárez-Orozco M. M. (1994). The Cultural Psychology of Hispanic Immigrants, in: T. Weaver (ed.), Handbook of Hispanic Cultures in the United Sates: Anthropology, pp. 129–144. Houston: Arte Público Press, University of Houston.
  • Suffolk County Council (2015). Migrants from Eastern Europe. Health and Wealth Being Suffolk: Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. Ipswich: Suffolk County Council.
  • Szalay T., Pažitný P., Szalayová A., Frisová, S., Morvay K., Petrovic M., Ginneken E. (2011). Slovakia: Health System Review. Health Systems in Transition 13(2): 1–174.
  • Thomas F. (2010). Transnational Health and Treatment Networks: Meaning, Value and Place in Health Seeking Amongst Southern African Migrants in London. Health and Place 16(3): 606–612.
  • Vargas Silva C., McNeil R. (2014). Hard Evidence: Does ‘Benefits Tourism’ Exist? The Conversation, 22 January, https://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-does-benefits-tourism-exist-22279 (accessed: 27 April 2018).
  • von Benda-Beckmann F., von Benda-Beckmann K. (1994). Coping with Insecurity: An ‘Underall’ Perspective on Social Security in the Third World. Focaal 22/23: 7–31.
  • von Benda-Beckmann F., von Benda-Beckmann K. (2007). Social Security Between Past and Future: Ambonese Networks of Care and Support. Berlin: LIT Verlag.
  • Wimmer A., Glick Schiller N. (2002). Methodological Nationalism and Beyond: Nation-State Building, Migration and Social Sciences. Global Networks 2(4): 301–334.
  • Zimmerman C., Kiss L., Hossain M. (2011). Migration and Health: A Framework for 21st Century Policy-Making. PLoS Med 8(5). Online: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001034 (accessed: 27 April 2018).

Document Type

Publication order reference


YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.