Between Cooperation and Hostility – Constructions of Ethnicity and Social Class among Polish Migrants in London Cover Image

Between Cooperation and Hostility – Constructions of Ethnicity and Social Class among Polish Migrants in London
Between Cooperation and Hostility – Constructions of Ethnicity and Social Class among Polish Migrants in London

Author(s): Michał P. Garapich
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego w Krakowie
Keywords: ethnicity; social class; trust; cooperation; solidarity; myth

Summary/Abstract: In the scholarship on Polish migrants, one of the frequently mentioned themes is the question of hostility expressed by Poles towards their co-ethnics. Analyzed through lenses of competition for the same economic resources or breakdown of bonds of solidarity due to migration, these explanations do not give full justice to the complexity of the phenomena. We deal with a paradox here since expressions of hostility or social distance by Polish migrants towards their co-ethnics stand in contradiction with the social and collective nature of Polish migration culture in general. In this article, I take an anthropological perspective on myth- -making practices to explain why Polish interviewees are so eager to emphasize that Poles do not cooperate and cannot be trusted once abroad. I argue that the importance of this myth for social actors stems from its power to contest dominant Polish narratives equating ethnic ties with moral ones and its ability to insert the notion of social class into the assumed homogeneity of ethnic category.

  • Issue Year: IV/2012
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 31-45
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: English