‘I Want to Stay Here Forever’: Narratives of Resistance amongst Polish-born Adolescents in the UK
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Polish accession to the European Union in 2004 saw migration to the UK increase exponentially. However, the recent climate in Britain has become one of a harsher anti-immigrant discourse. This paper is based on findings of my doctoral study exploring identity construction amongst Polish-born adolescents in the UK in the light of such negative discourses. Here, I see identity as contingent, (re) negotiated in different contexts; I also draw on the theory of positioning, whereby individuals adopt certain subject positions even as they are positioned differently by others. Fieldwork for the study took place in January-May 2016. A narrative inquiry approach was used; interviews were held with eleven participants aged 11–16, living in small Polish communities. Findings suggest that while the adolescents report having been subjected to anti-Polish bullying, they refuse to tell stories of victimhood. Rather, they present themselves as agentive individuals who respond to attacks by asserting their Polish identity and reinforcing their right to be in the UK. Thus, despite the antagonistic discourses surrounding Polish migration to the UK, these adolescents demonstrate the positive way that they are confronting their present difficulties and approaching their future.
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