Exploring migrant lives in transnational social spaces using the example of Polish migrants in Ireland


Exploring migrant lives in transnational social spaces using the example of Polish migrants in Ireland

The concept of transnational migration has gained an increasing importance within the academic debate since the 1990s and provides an alternative, complementing perspective to studying migration which aims at accommodating new developments within the realm of globalisation. One major claim of the approach of transnational migration is that today’s migrants do not just settle in the receiving country and assimilate. Rather, they maintain (strong) transnational links to their sending country, which can lead to the emergence of transnational social spaces.

The approach of transnational migration was originally developed and applied with regard to the United States and its immigrant communities. This dissertation explores the meaning and impact that living in transnational social spaces may have for and on migrants within the European Union.

Overall, the study is divided into three major sections: First, the transnational approach is located within the existing theoretical literature, and contrasted with the approaches of assimilation, integration and multiculturalism.  Second, the elements to be included in the analytical framework in order to operationalize the approach of transnational social spaces are identified. These comprise the areas of transmobility, transculturation, hybrid identity formation and multiple and multi-local incorporation. Third, this framework is then implemented to explore the transnational elements in everyday lives of Polish migrants in Limerick city and county through 22 semi-structured interviews.

This study contributes to the further development of the concept of transnational social space with regard to its implementation. Methodologically, it exemplifies how the different elements of transnational social space, social practice, symbol systems and artefacts, can be operationalized. Analytically, it highlights those aspects of migrants’ everyday lives which were side-lined under the auspices of other theoretical concepts such as integration, multiculturalism and assimilation. It thereby adds to a more comprehensive understanding of modern processes of migration.