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Immigration and Identity: how to keep Polish identity when living in UK.


dmustudent01 2 | 4
16 Feb 2009  #1
Hi, I'm a student studying Polish immigration to Britain at De Montfort Uni in Leicester.

I am trying to discover what ways Polish immigrants keep their Polish identity after they have moved. And how they interact and meet one another, what links they have with the homeland and so on.

Could anyone help me please.
tonykenny 18 | 131
16 Feb 2009  #2
Well, in Leicester you're in the rigth place. I lived in Melton Mowbray and worked in Leicester before I emigrated to Poland last summer. I had many polish friends there and at last count, i think there were believed to be over 8000 Poles in Leicester alone. You only have to see the number of Polish shops and shops advertising "polski produkty" to see this.

I'm not sure if many I knew did anything conscious or deliberate to keep their 'identity' but most communicated with Polish friends in Polish, watched Polish TV, ate polish food and drank Polish beer. You can see on the internet that many Polish services are available in Britain, from hairdressers to Polish satellite TV installers; all available in Polish.

Looks to me like they're doing the same as any other ethnic groups who move to another country 'en masse'. They are keeping contact with their own and helping each other along. Same as I do here with many foreigners in Poland.

For more help, you might like to try one of the Polish community centres in Leicestershire. A quick googling should return a few results.

all the best

Tony
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
16 Feb 2009  #3
dmustudent01

Think British ex pats in Spain and you bascially have Polish ex pats in the UK. Fortunately Brits get a much better deal since they have sunshine, fab wine and heavenly food :) (all Spanish that is).

Looks to me like they're doing the same as any other ethnic groups who move to another country 'en masse'.

Can you explain what you mean by the above, Poles are the same ethnic group as Brits - or did you mean, nationality? rather than ethnic?
Trevek 26 | 1,702
16 Feb 2009  #4
What would be even more interesting is exploring the different notions of Polishness amongst the different age groups. Example, how do the older Poles, from the war years, see Polishness in contrast to how the younger ones see it.

Example: Perhaps older Poles listen more to folklore groups like Masowsze, which would have most younger Poles diving for cover.

Language is another factor. I found older Poles less likely to speak Polish with me (as a learner) than younger ones (part of the process of intergration was their having to learn English). Often 2nd or 3rd generations of immigrants learn less of the 'old' language and it becomes an identity marker for the older generations.
OP dmustudent01 2 | 4
16 Feb 2009  #5
Thank you for the above replies,

They are all really helpfull. Especially about the

I am definately going to look into the differences between young and old (and new immigration as well as more established immigrants) as part of my work, and have had lots of research already.

Have been in contact with a Polish community centre as well, and the people there were really friendly and helpfull.

I'm really interested in migration in general, and can see how Polish migration is simmilar to many other forms of migration, and am using Polish migration as a case study to explore migration as a whole.

Any other suggestions or personal experiances would be greatly appreciated.
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
16 Feb 2009  #6
I'm really interested in migration in general, and can see how Polish migration is simmilar to many other forms of migration, and am using Polish migration as a case study to explore migration as a whole.

It's purely economical - the vast majority will return home - Poland is not some 3rd world slum from which people are risking life and limb to escape.
tonykenny 18 | 131
16 Feb 2009  #7
or did you mean, nationality? rather than ethnic?

ah yes, I got my groups mixed up, I mean the same as any group of foreigners in another country. They tend to stick together.
OP dmustudent01 2 | 4
16 Feb 2009  #8
Poland is not some 3rd world slum from which people are risking life and limb to escape

I don't think anyone that has any experiance of Poland would think it is; its a beautiful country with a great cultural history. Many Poles do settle in Britain though, move their whole families over, why do you think that is?
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
16 Feb 2009  #9
I'd say the ones who are quite low class as we have a better benefit system than in Poland, even Poland has it's under-class and whilst stories of how good british benefits filter through, those sort will still arrive and settle, lets face it they have fuck all in Poland so why not come over here - fee housing, benefits, free school dinners, the list is endless - it's a totally different story in Poland......

No professional inteligent pole would want to live in such a shite hole as the UK for any prolonged period of time let alone move his / her family - those that are in these kind of positions are here purly to make money to make a nice nest egg in Poland, I seriously doubt they would think for one minute that they would move their family here.
OP dmustudent01 2 | 4
16 Feb 2009  #10
Thanks for that Shelley

Going back to my original point can anyone further help me with

what ways Polish immigrants keep their Polish identity after they have moved. And how they interact and meet one another, what links they have with the homeland and so on.

and also maybe give an insight into if there are any differences between the ages?
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
16 Feb 2009  #11
dmustudent01

Polish people in the UK generally do their shopping at Sainsburys or Tesco - there are some "Polski Skleps"

Some Polish people will go to Polish socials, some don't, some Polish people have Polish TV some who speak English, dont have Polish TV....Some Poles are "clannish" some are quite friendly and open to having English friends...

Dmustudent, there are no hard and fast answers to your questions, Poles are not like certain other minorities from other countries that have landed on our shores, Poles are for the most part very much the same as any other nationality in Europe, the only difference between other European nationals and Poles is the numbers they arrived in the UK and for those Brit that haven't done a lot of travelling they seem to think anyone with a foriegn accent these days is Polish, here is an example: A woman was complaining about how loud a guy on the bus was, she said "bloody Polish" the guy was Hungarian!
OP dmustudent01 2 | 4
16 Feb 2009  #12
Again, thank you Shelly.

I understand that there is no one rule for people of any nationality; as a Historian I am looking for certain trends; in this case how and if people adapt to living in different countries.

The reason I am studdying Polish, as a case study of this is simply due to the fact that I live in an area with a large Polish community, and have a couple of friends which have helped me with contacts. Therefore I find sources easier to come by.

Does anyone else have any oppinion on how they form links with other polish members of the comunity and keep links with back home? and any differences between Polish youths and older people?
mafketis 20 | 7,049
16 Feb 2009  #13
Poles are the same ethnic group as Brits - or did you mean, nationality? rather than ethnic?

I am not understanding this. How are Brits and Poles one ethnic group?
Bzibzioh
16 Feb 2009  #14
There is substantial difference between 'stara' and 'nowa' emigracja. Old one remembers war well and is still reliving it. They have veteran's organizations. They tend to organize around church activities. Organizing help for Polish charity. Polish choirs and dance groups.

Young one is less attached to organized forms of activity. Still attending Sunday mass. Organizing Polish film festivals. Going to see Polish artists and cabarets. Some are obsessively watching polish TV. Sending children to polish Sunday schools.
Bartolome 2 | 1,085
16 Feb 2009  #15
Old emigration drives Bentleys. New one - not yet.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
17 Feb 2009  #16
Many Poles do settle in Britain though, move their whole families over, why do you think that is?

Despite Shelley's ludicrous comments about no professional or intelligent Pole wanting to stay in UK, many do. Part of it is simply that work was/is available in UK and the career opportunities are/were better.

Example, several friends of mine have university education and no job opportunities in our region. They moved to Ireland and worked to get money so they could buy flats etc when they returned to Poland. Others found that they could get better paid factory work in UK than their specified profession paid in Poland. Making a career a career jump and discovering the opportunities, many have decided to stay in UK (at least for a longer period)... hence bringing their families over.

An example; a friend of mine is a teacher but teaching pays crap money in Poland so he moved to UK to work, found the opportunities of reasonably well-paid factory work and decided to stay to earn money for a flat. His university educated wife was unable to find full-time work and also has a baby. Hence, it made sense for her to move to UK to be with her husband. Creche facilities allow her to work.

Still others just found that th business opportunities were much kinder in UK than in Poland. example; until recently it took over a month to register and legalise a firm in Poland, before which you couldn't trade. In Scotland a 15 minute phone call could start the process and allow you to start trading. The red-tape in Poland has scared so many UK firms away in the past. I've spoken to several people who say they won't return to Poland.

As for your question about similarities in migration, there are different kinds of migration. In this case we are looking at a predominantly economic migration which will decline and reverse (as it already is). This is different from the wartime/post-war migration where Poles were largely refugees and ex-servicemen who had little opportunity to remain safely in the communist controlled regime.

Things to think about; church, food, language, social clubs, music (try looking up the work of Martin Stokes) and work (many immigrants might find work in the same areas, like post-war West Indians being employed in public transport, Irish in construction etc). Also, contact with "Old Country".

An interesting comparison might be with the 16th/17th Century Scots migration to Poland (look up website Electric Scotland and find books on Scots in Poland and Germany). You'll find many of the same patterns being rpeated: mass migration, niches in the markets, rising stars of the scene, organisation of communities and even some of the complaints sound the same "Scots are as bad as Jews!", "Send 'em Back!", "Scavengers, tax dodgers!". Then the eventual return of many home (and what they did when they got there) or intergration.
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
17 Feb 2009  #17
Despite Shelley's ludicrous comments about no professional or intelligent Pole wanting to stay in UK, many do. Part of it is simply that work was/is available in UK and the career opportunities are/were better.

Whatever, i dont know any professionals that want to spend the rest of their lives here....and very few in decent jobs want to disrupt their familes lives at home, since as you pointed out:

An example; a friend of mine is a teacher but teaching pays crap money in Poland so he moved to UK to work, found the opportunities of reasonably well-paid factory work and decided to stay to earn money for a flat.

The above is the reason they are here! Not to create a home.

You also might want to note that I used the word "majority" which doesn't cover the entire population of Poland.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
17 Feb 2009  #18
I agree with you about the majority being short termers but you did say:

No professional inteligent pole (my bold)would want to live in such a shite hole as the UK for any prolonged period of time let alone move his / her family - those that are in these kind of positions are here purly to make money to make a nice nest egg in Poland, I seriously doubt they would think for one minute that they would move their family here.

They might come to make money but the circumstances can change to make it better to set up home. It happens with immigrants everywhere. What about those professionals who move abroad and meet someone there and decide to stay (happened to a friend of mine in Ireland who's a trained psychologist, and still working in the field).

I just happen to know a few (admittedly not many) who are there for the long haul. The fact people are setting up businesses suggests they are intending to stay. Those that decide to leave their families might not find them there when they return (and I know a couple of examples of that too).

Even if they are short termers (however long 'short' is), it just makes (emotional/economic) sense bringing the family over in some cases.
mixer - | 4
17 Feb 2009  #19
Most of the poles living near me are here for the long haul. My neighbor is a software engineer and others living around me are mostly tradesman. Lots of Plumbers and electricians and they have all bought houses here as well as their family members and have no plans whatsoever of returning.
lexi 1 | 176
17 Feb 2009  #20
Whatever, i dont know any professionals that want to spend the rest of their lives here

Very true, you have never met any professional polish or non-polish persons so why do you profess that they would not want to spend the rest of their lives here. You make it all up as you go along, or whoever upsets you on the said day.
IronsE11 2 | 442
17 Feb 2009  #21
Poles are the same ethnic group as Brits

What the hell are you talking about? Bjesus. Most Brits don't share the same ethnicity - 'White' is not an ethnic group!

there are no hard and fast answers to your questions, Poles are not like certain other minorities from other countries that have landed on our shores,

Such as? Come on Shel, let's have some stereotypes. 'Pakis' are all benefit scrounging Jihadists? Somalis are all knife wielding maniacs?
ShelleyS 14 | 2,893
17 Feb 2009  #22
Very true, you have never met any professional polish or non-polish persons so why do you profess that they would not want to spend the rest of their lives here. You make it all up as you go along, or whoever upsets you on the said day.

And you seem to think you know me...which is quite untrue, why not sign on as your usual ID or are you scared? Silly girl....Im not going to be provoked by someone like you...! :)

Such as? Come on Shel, let's have some stereotypes. 'Pakis' are all benefit scrounging Jihadists? Somalis are all knife wielding maniacs?

Not exactly what I meant, but since you wrote what you did, yeah why not.

What the hell are you talking about? Bjesus. Most Brits don't share the same ethnicity - 'White' is not an ethnic group!

It was a mistake...
lexi 1 | 176
17 Feb 2009  #23
And you seem to think you know me...which is quite untrue

You openly stated in one of your posts, and I quote "I have never met a polish professional", so how do you expect me to believe what you write about polish professionals, if you have never met one, seems a bit contradictory to me.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
28 Mar 2010  #24
youtube.com/watch?v=RSZdb2buU_c

Poles should keep their dignity and honour. Finding a job is a job in itself and I applaud the Poles for being resourceful and carving out their niche in boom&bust Britain.
Myszolow 3 | 157
28 Mar 2010  #25
That was funny. Pity about the Russian accent at the end, but it was very good. ;)
Seanus 15 | 19,706
28 Mar 2010  #26
Yeah, he clearly hasn't heard enough Polish but I like what he had to say. Poles are the wake-up call that Brits needed. Poles have enough of their own shops there to be settled. Besides, many are lone wolves that don't want to be overexposed to Polish ways. They feel cheated by their country and I don't blame some of them for that. They study very hard and for what?
guzzler 1 | 88
29 Mar 2010  #27
Seanus: many are lone wolves that don't want to be overexposed to Polish ways.

I agree Seanus some people who come from another country may not feel the necessity to seek out their fellow countrymen. It is not a conscious decision It's just the way things pan out, I left Ireland in the fifties and joined the Royal Navy. I returned to Ireland when I left the navy, but I could not settle there so I flew back to London. I rented an apartment in the one above me was a Polish family, we eventually became very good friends and through them I was introduced to the wider Polish community. Most of them were Free Polish Army, some were from the Polish underground, Zocha my friend had been interned in a German concentration camp near Krakow. They were wonderful people who missed their homeland, I consider myself proud to list them among my friends. If anyone wants to research the Free Polish Army a good start is General Anders book " An Army in Exile."

Regards
Seanus 15 | 19,706
29 Mar 2010  #28
Nice post, guzzler. Despite all their disillusionment, many still dream of returning to the culture that they love. It's all about where you put yourself or, indeed, where you are put. They keep their identity through local Polish events, shops and honouring Polish traditions from afar.
guzzler 1 | 88
30 Mar 2010  #29
I agree Sean it is a human condition to miss what is familiar to you, I know the post war Poles in Britain missed Poland. And some of them went back and were treated with suspicion, and were not welcome in Stalin's Poland. The British Poles knew this and set about keeping the Polish customs alive, within their communities and still do to-day. I met General Alders in the Polish Centre in South Kensington, in the early sixties and saw him lying in state in a little converted church off Goldhawk Road in 1970. Between 1963 and 1970 I had been to Australia taken part in the Vietnam war, so I had a much better idea what the Free Polish Army had gone through. General Anders wish was to be buried with his fallen troops at Monte Cassino.
pgtx 29 | 3,159
10 Nov 2010  #30
this article says that the elites of Polish immigration live in the Basque Country... everybody there is educated and employed...

:)


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