Attitudes towards immigration: responses to the increased presence of Polish migrants in the UK post 2004

Catherine Harris, Anna Gawlewicz, Gill Valentine

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    Based on a large-scale research project conducted in a northern English city, this paper focuses on the attitudes towards, and experienced by, Polish migrants as a result of increased immigration following the 2004 enlargement of the European Union. We pay attention to the ways in which people justify their negative attitudes towards this migrant group through competition for resources, particularly in terms of job security and the receipt of benefit payments. However, we also consider meaningful encounters between these migrants and the ‘local’ population, and how through these encounters attitudes can sometimes be transformed from negative to positive. Crucially, we demonstrate how Polish migrants themselves respond to these attitudes. In doing so, we show that by drawing upon the very same discourses of job security and social benefits they develop complex understandings of the ‘local’ population. Through its attention to immigration, the paper contributes to debates about the relationships between different social groups and processes of exclusion, highlighting the importance of encounters on the process of attitude formation. By giving voice to representatives of both the ‘local’ population and migrants, it further provides a rare perspective on social responses to immigration-driven diversity in European societies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalMigration and Development
    Issue number1
    Early online date4 Dec 2019
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Dec 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Migration and Development on 04/12/2019, available online:

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Immigration
    • Attitudes
    • Encounter
    • Polish
    • UK


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