Journal article

Louise Ryan (2018)

Differentiated embedding: Polish migrants in London negotiating belonging over time

Journal Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Short title of the journal JEMS
Number/Volume 44: 2(2018)
Page references 233-251

ISSN: 1369-183X (eISSN 1469-9451)

Developing on Granovetter's classic work on embeddedness in systems of social relations, this paper proposes the concept of 'differentiated embedding' to explore how migrants negotiate attachment and belonging as dynamic temporal, spatial and relational processes. When Poland joined the EU in May 2004, the large flow of migrants to the UK was perceived by many migration researchers as heralding a new form of transient mobility associated with short-term, temporary and circular migration, and high levels of transnationalism. Relatively little attention was paid to how these migrants were integrating in local contexts. Based on 20 in-depth interviews and network mapping with Polish migrants, resident in London for a decade, I examine why participants extended their stay and how their decisions were shaped by interpersonal relationships locally and transnationally. London as a 'superdiverse', global city offers place-specific opportunities for building networks and developing processes of embedding. Nonetheless, a focus on networks risks overlooking the wider structural context in which migrants live and work. Thus, I argue, there is a need for a differentiated concept to capture the nuanced interplay of structural, relational, spatial and temporal embedding. This concept not only captures multi-scalarity and multi-sectorality but also levels of belonging and attachment.

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