Breaking borders, changing structures – transnationalism of migrants from Poland as anti-state resistance
Among the many meanings of transnationalism(s), the political significance of transnational action from the perspective of individual migrants does not always gain enough attention. It is usually framed as a way transnational migration processes affect the state, how social movements formed in the diaspora compete for the stake in the home country or how a particular state manages its diaspora through various policy means. This article will call for a more actor-centred approach in which individuals’ choices and strategic decisions have an anti-state frame of reference dominating their individualised agendas and norms of behaviour. These are not overtly political, thus falling outside a typical political science lens, but follow what James Scott refers to as ‘small scale resistance’ or ‘weapons of the weak’ of structurally subordinate groups. In the case of Polish migrants I discuss, this follows a long-lasting tradition of contestation of the state normative and institutional structures, its surveillance, migration regimes and ways in which institutions aim to control human actions. With the advent of increased mobility within the European Union due to EU integration processes and the subsequent volume of these flows, these types of behaviour and cultural attitudes gain particular prominence offering a variety of means and opportunities to manoeuver between structural constraints, contesting them and at times even changing them to individual advantage. I argue that these culturally and structurally mutually reinforcing features of anti-state culture make migrants from Poland a particular type of agents in the European web of transnational social fields.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Social Sciences, University of Roehampton, London, UK
Publication date: January 2, 2016