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Migrants: keeping a foot in both worlds or losing the ground beneath them? Transnationalism and integration as experienced in the everyday lives of Polish migrants in Belfast, Northern Ireland

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This paper discusses transnationalism and integration as processes entangled in the everyday lives of Polish migrants. It acknowledges that the co-existence of transnationalism and integration can present an array of choices and enable migrants to lead a fulfilling life in the receiving country while they continue to maintain a foothold in their original homeland. Yet, it might also create a feeling of disjuncture, discontinuity of relations, and ceaseless negotiation between inclusion and exclusion. It is, thus, important to bear in mind that migration is a process involving individuals with all their unique life experiences, complexities and consequences of their choices, sacrifices, ambiguities and hopes associated with the move. All of these have a profound impact on changes in migrants’ perception of, and attitude to, their place of origin, the specificities of destination setting and interpersonal relations between the two milieux. The empirical grounds for this discussion originate in biographical narrative interviews with Polish migrants in Belfast, Northern Ireland. These narratives portray transnationalism and integration as multiple trajectories, emphasising the co-existence of non-linear relations between the time and the intensity/frequency of migrants’ connections to the two settings. These will be examined using the theoretical framework of interpretative sociology, viewing individuals as constantly engaged in the task of interpretation, which is intrinsically rooted in the processes of interaction.
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Keywords: Polish immigrants; Transnationalism; in-betweenness; integration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty in Wroclaw, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wroclaw, Poland

Publication date: January 2, 2016

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