Migrant ‘Remainers’

As David Davis, the UK Government minister responsible for managing the country’s exit from the EU, “gets down to business”, as he puts it, in Brussels, it is not surprising the issue of the rights of EU nationals living in the UK is top of the pile. Few public issues in the UK spark more heat than immigration, especially in the context of debates about ‘Brexit’.

In a new book, with my colleagues Julie Knight and John Lever, Labour, Mobility and Migration, published by University of Wales Press, we look at the experience of migrants who arrived in Wales after the enlargement of the EU in 2004, which saw Poland and nine other countries join the EU. As the UK prepares for its exit, what of the fate of those EU nationals who have made Wales their home?
One of the unique features of the migration which followed in the wake of EU enlargement in 2004 was that every part of the EU saw marked increases in the numbers of EU nationals settling, and not just the usual migrant ‘hotspots’. In Wales, the number of Polish nationals increased from just over 1000 in 2001 to nearly 20000 a decade later, with over 90% of Polish nationals living in Wales arriving after 2004. At the outset, the assumption was that we should expect migration to fall away a few years after accession, but that has not proven to be the case. Indeed, most migrants, too, come thinking they will stay only for a short period, only to find they stay much longer.
In our research, one of the issues we looked at was why migrants ‘overstay’. We found they did so for a range of reasons. Most particularly, they could do so because they have work or, should a contract be terminated, can find alternative employment relatively soon and, in contrast to many migrants from outside the EU, there are no compelling legal reasons why they need return. We found relatively few cases of individuals who were actively and positively choosing to stay because of their job, with the exception of entrepreneurs who had created openings for themselves and now had business ties to the localities in which they lived. Instead, work was, for the large part, a means to a better end. Similarly, the comparative ease with which migrants move between the EU’s member states is a crucial structural enabler of migratory drift, but this is about what makes possible this type of migration rather than what causes individuals to commit, to varying lengths, to an extended migratory career. To understand why most migrants drift, often for many years, we identified three main interconnected factors.
At the outset, individual migrants are likely to have a good deal at stake in ensuring they persist with staying abroad, even in the face of the difficulties most face after arriving. The decision they made to leave Poland will rarely have been made in isolation, and whether because of personal debts to others who have helped or because they have staked something of their reputation in leaving, these commitments act as constraints on their actions. Once they are joined by family, or new relationships are formed abroad, the complexity of these commitments increases in magnitude. This is because their actions are informed by interests extraneous to their original decision to migrate rooted as they are in experiences specific to the host society.

A second factor which emerged from our research which contributed to migratory drift was how, again over time, migrants adjusted to a different mode of life abroad. ‘Integration’ – as evidenced by growing familiarity with English, their exposure to and use of the language in their daily lives, personal connections to members of the local population or by how they accessed news about the host society rather than about life in Poland – was uneven across the localities we studied. Even among those, however, who spent much of their lives speaking Polish, they had nevertheless acclimatised to the different rhythm of life in Wales and this clearly exerted a considerable force over their outlook. Though better wages enabled them to worry less about the temporal pressures to which they were used in Poland – the weekly bills, the monthly rent or repayments – it was their experience that life in Wales, broadly, ran at a different, more welcome pace than in Poland. That many of those who, by objective measures, would be regarded as living in the shadows of the local society felt transformed by their experience of living in Wales might not be viewed as ‘integration’, but it is nonetheless a powerful form of adaptation.

Finally, to understand why so many migrants stay it is necessary to take account of the cultural and social context, not only the economic, in which migration occurs. In the case of Poland, in the near decade-long build-up to accession, it wasn’t just the country’s economic and policy structure which had changed; cultural values and social expectations, too, had undergone fundamental shifts. Especially in those former industrial towns and in rural Poland where economic restructuring had cut the deepest, and among young Poles with limited opportunities to exercise choice in the country’s transition to a market economy, migration provided them with the capability for making a change.

We need to review our understanding of the mechanics of migration. The ‘push-pull’ model for evaluating international migration frames labour migration as rooted in the differential conditions of national labour markets. ‘Poor’ people, or at least those originating from societies whose economies are less developed than in the destination country, are pulled towards ‘rich’ countries because they can earn more money. Our take on this matter is that while there is an undeniable truth to this proposition, those we interviewed were moving because they had aspirations to live better. Even if the need for an immediate injection of money was a factor, our research revealed that migration was more widely pursued as a strategy for achieving an improvement in how these men and women lived by changing where they did so.

What impact the UK leaving the EU will have on the legal status of nationals of EU member states is yet to be established. Our research nevertheless leads us to conclude that, wages aside, a reciprocal exit on the part of individual migrants, returning to Poland, would be seen to have come at a significant personal cost.

Andrew Thompson

Labour, Mobility and Migration is published by University of Wales Press is available in paperback and as an ebook. For more details, see http://www.uwp.co.uk/book/labour-mobility-and-temporary-migration-ebook-mobi/
Andrew Thompson is Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of South Wales

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‘The Glastonbury Experience: Beliefs, Politics and Values’ Research Questionnaire

This questionnaire will take you 10 minutes to complete.

It will contribute to academic research carried out by scholars at the University of South Wales, Cardiff University and the Open University, in UK. The data we collect will be solely used for academic purposes (such as conference papers, workshops, seminars and academic publications). Your contribution to our research is very much appreciated and the data will be treated with respect and consideration.

Please click this link to complete the questionnaire:

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A Gay Christian Minister Comes Out

A Gay Christian Minister Comes Out Ray Vincent, Associate Chaplain The attitude of Christian churches towards homosexuality has generally been negative, and in many places still is. Forty years ago it took great courage on the part of a few … Continue reading
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Agenda for Change – Local Government and Public Services in Wales

There are only a few days left to respond to the Welsh Government’s consultation on its proposals for the reform of local government in Wales. Whilst the the title of the White paper focuses on local government, ‘Reforming Local Government: Resilient and Renewed’, it is actually much more about public services in Wales and how the Welsh Government wants services to operate in the future. Against a background of how many local authorities should exist in Wales with the obsession on their number, the white paper sets out some ideas around the renewal of local democracy, regional and collaborative working and joined up service delivery.


The proposals set out in the white paper reinforce the role of elected members, or councillors in local democracy. The proposal is for these members to sit on Regional Partnership boards in much the same was as councillors currently sit on the governing boards of the fire and rescue services in Wales.  There are huge expectations from the regional partnership boards in the joint delivery of health and social care services.


Joined up delivery and collaborative working are set out as the new ‘normal’ in which councils and other public bodies sit together in regional Public Service boards to deliver more focused outcomes for citizens within their areas. The existing 22 local authorities in Wales are a key part of the new agenda and their involvement in the regional footprints in health and social care, transport, education and other service areas is central.


In addition to participating in the regional agenda, local authorities can continue to operate separately as 22 authorities or they can decide to merge or come together for the delivery of certain functions.


The White Paper also focuses on the importance of community councils in Wales in particular communities.


Its enhancement therefore of the involvement of councillors in regional decision making and the endorsement of community councils could potentially reinvigorate democracy.


However, expanding the role of councillors in the governance of a range of services needs to take on board a number of important issues to ensure effective public services. These include the need for councillors to represent the communities they come from in terms of diversity, gender and background, to be trained in the key areas of challenge and scrutiny and for them to fully understand their role, particularly focused on the improvement of outcomes.


This won’t be without its challenges. One of these will be where local councillors make decisions in regional forums which may impact negatively on their local areas. Another challenge will be the workload involved and the need to attract the very best individuals who are ‘up to the job’. Perhaps the days of the ‘part time’ councillor are over due to the increasing demands on them.


The White paper aspires to joined up collaborative public services in Wales. This aspiration has existed for a number of years, probably since the Beecham reports http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/documents/829/WAG%20-%20Beyond%20Boundaries%20%28Beecham%20Review%29%202006.PDF

which were published over 10 years ago and since then, there has been the Williams (2014) report  –http://gov.wales/topics/improvingservices/public-service-governance-and-delivery/report/?lang=en. In all of the time that many have spent on talking about reorganising and improving public services in Wales, the joined up collaborative public service agenda is taking shape much more quickly, for example, in areas of England including Manchester where the Combined authority is set to take charge of a range of services under the direction of a Mayor https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/.


It’s time to stop talking.  Lets get on with delivery securing the best outcomes for the citizens of Wales.



A link to the consultation can be found at https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/reforming-local-government-resilient-andrenewed




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Research Poster: From the Hippy Trail to Festivals


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Ain’t Going to Goa by Alabama Three

This song has been around for a while but it has only just been brought to my attention. It’s an anti-hippie song which reflects a more conservative approach to the 1960s, to spirituality etc. Posted here for info only.

I believe I’m gonna
Shut down my chakras, shift Shiva offa my shelf
Take down my tie dyes, my Tibetan bells
Cool down my karma with a can of O.P.T.
Ain’t no call for Casteneda in my frontline library.

There’s one thing I know, Lord above,
I ain’t gonna go,
I ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t goin’ to Goa now
Ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t gonna Goa now.

Ain’t dancin’ trance, no thanx, no chance to tranquilize me.
Ain’t sippin’ no smart bar drinks, you, that don’t satisfy me.
Dosing up my dharma, with a drop of gasoline,
I ain’t down with Mr. McKenna, tantric mantra talkin’ don’t move me.

I don’t need no freaky, deeky, fractal geometry, crystal silicon chip.
I ain’t walking on lay lines, reading no High Times put me on another bad trip.
Timothy Leary, just check out this theory,
He sold acid for the F.B.I.
Well, he ain’t no website wonder, the guru just went under,
You can keep your California Sunshine.

‘Cause the righteous truth is, there ain’t nothing worse than
Some fool lying on some Third World beach wearing
Spandex, psychedelic trousers, smoking damn dope
Pretending he gettin’ consciousness expansion. I want
Consciousness expansion, I go to my local tabernacle
An’ I sing with the brothers and sisters

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Sacred Stones and Bodies Seminar at USW

Maria_23_28thFeb2017-minJackie_13_28thFeb2017-min Our recent seminar at the University of South Wales, ‘Sacred Stones and Bodies’, held on 28 February 2017, examined the material culture and some of the sacred loci of modern arts and performance festivals.  The speakers talked about the sacred stones at the Glastonbury Festival, as well as the rituals associated with ‘festival bodies’.
Dr Jacqui Mulville, a Reader in Bioarchaeology at Cardiff University, talked about ‘Festival Archaeology’, showing how Bioarcheology can  be used to explore the way in which the Stone Circle at Glastonbury can take part in the construction of festival Identities.  Jacqui examined how festivals can be researched through the application of archaeology.  She showed how archaeological evidence is called upon to construct festival identities, both physically, such as the stone circle at Glastonbury, and socially, in the re-creation of ‘ancient traditions’.  Jacqui posited that contemporary participatory archaeological research is beginning to map festival journeys and examine the material culture of festival identities.
Dr Maria Nita, at University of South Wales, talked about ‘Bodies, Rituals and the Glastonbury Festival’, attempting to show that the festival journey can be both a solitary one, in which the festival goer establishes a ritualized itinerary through the festival fields, and a communal (ritual) experience.  Maria discussed her current research on the Glastonbury festival, focusing on the significance and ritualistic treatment of the  body for the duration of the festival. She examined some historical findings that show how Woodstock’s, and conversely Glastonbury’s, iconic naked bodies both displayed a  nostalgic memorialisation of the past and ignited the imagination of a generation about the future.
We are grateful to the Research Institute at the University of South Wales for their support.
Dr Brian Ireland, Dr Sharif Gemie and Dr Maria Nita
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Industrial accidents in Bangladesh are another symptom of an unequal society

Contributed by Palash Kamruzzaman, Research Fellow

This article first appeared in The Conversation, September 21, 2016

Bangladesh, once dismissed as a “basket case” for development, has made remarkable progress in many aspects of human and economic development in the last couple of decades.

The people of Bangladesh are a key element in this remarkable advancement. They work hard on scarce farming land, risk their lives in ready-made garment factories and other labour-intensive industries, and take on low-skilled jobs abroad to send money home.

But as well as being one of the key drivers for making Bangladesh an emerging success story, the general population is the group that often pay the heaviest price for development.

Death and destruction hit workers at factories in Rana Plaza in 2013 (official death toll: 1,126) and Tazreen Fashion in 2012 (official death toll: 117). The latest addition to this grim list is the explosion at a packaging factory Tampaco Foils in September 2016, where the reported number of dead people was 34, with many others critically injured.

It seems that people die in large numbers in Bangladesh, especially in industrial accidents. Accidents do happen but when such a trend persists it is worth questioning the social structure behind it.

Any of these incidents, in an advanced democracy, would have resulted in a major governmental shake up. Sadly, in Bangladesh, this is not the case. Apart from a bit of rhetoric about investigations, a few messages of sympathy from political leaders, and some compensation packages for victims’ families, no meaningful changes follow.

This clearly highlights a significant lack of democratic accountability – and a poor state of national law and order.

Investigations into these accidents take years. Perpetrators are often never brought to justice and issues are swept under the carpet thanks to political patronage and high level connections between the worlds of business and politics.

Understandably, delays in justice also prompt fears of denial of justice. It remains to be seen how long it will take to investigate what happened at Tampaco Foils and whether anyone will be held accountable. The owners of Tazreen fashion were only formally indicted and ordered to stand trial for negligence after nearly three years (the case is still continuing).

The Bangladesh paradox

Power, money, and political connections can offer a form of indemnity for some. High profile cases in other crimes such as murder in which perpetrators remain at large or are yet to be brought to justice also loom in the public consciousness for their connection to power or wealth. As a consequence, a sense of lawlessness is growing in Bangladesh.

Ordinary people seem to accept that fairness in trials and justice for them are highly unlikely. In fact, the state of disillusionment in the justice system is so high, that some people don’t even want the pretence of justice to play a role in their tragedies. One university professor, the father of a murdered publisher, recently declared: “I don’t want justice”. This is a shocking development for any society in the 21st century.

Bustling Dhaka. Shutterstock
The Bangladesh paradox, in which its visible successes exist so visibly next to its social failures, deserves to be analysed. While the country is definitely making great progresses in some areas, it is also true that there is a democratic deficit, politics is dysfunctional, corruption is rife, and public accountability is low. Nepotism and political allegiance matter more than anyone’s capability and merit.

Tragic accidents in labour-intensive industries do not lead to positive changes because power, money and political connections suppress opinions and oppress the victims. The poor continue to die in their hundreds and thousands, and suffer ill treatment and a lack of job security. This subjects them to further poverty and a precarious future.

The apparent inevitability of major accidents is embedded in an emerging social structure that protects the elites, and pays little attention to the safety and lives of the poor. Social justice does not exist.

And when social justice does not exist, it is sometimes replaced with a cold and hostile environment which can breed even more lawlessness and violence. In light of recent terrorist activities in the country (in which the government has denied any international involvement), one also wonders whether home grown radical terror groups are just the latest destructive force borne out of the current socio-political state of the country.


Author – palash.kamruzzaman@southwales.ac.uk


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February is LGBT History Month

February is LGBT History Month. Even the name is controversial. We used to talk just about “gay people” and “gay history”, but in recent years there is a growing recognition that human sexuality takes many different forms. To assume that … Continue reading
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Book Cover

It looks very much like this will be the cover of our book! 🙂


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