Diffusion of Culture Through Social Remittances between Poland and The United Kingdom


International migration of Poles on the time of political and economic transition, with all its unique patterns, constitute a source of ongoing research interests of scholars (among others Jaźwińska & Okólski 2001; Kaczmarczyk & Łukowski 2004; Kaczmarczyk ed. 2008; Grabowska-Lusińska & Okólski 2009)

Up until now mostly migration dynamics, trends, structure and patterns were extensively researched as well as migrants’ behaviours connected to transfer of financial remittances (Hirszfeld 2001; Kaczmarczyk ed. 2008; Wieruszewska ed. 2008: Grabowska-Lusińska & Okólski 2009). The present research project on social remittances of contemporary migrants from Poland constitutes a kind of innovative sociological and anthropological approach to researching impacts of migration on social life. Social remittances are the ideas, behaviours, identities, and social capital flowing from receiving to sending country communities (Levitt 1998).

Key aims of the present research project are:

  1. An identification of social resources which may be considered as social remittances of contemporary migrants from Poland both on individual and on collective levels.
  2. An analysis of mechanisms of transfer, diffusion and meaning of social remittances from abroad in sending location.
  3. A role of social remittances in social and political life of local community.
  4. Costs and benefits analysis of social remittances from abroad in Poland.

The final scientific result of the project will relate to an in-depth analysis of meaning, role and mechanisms of transmission of social remittances both in sending and receiving countries. Qualitative study of social networks as the key method of the project will be designed to answer crucial research questions: (1) What are social remittances in case of Polish migrants? (2) What are mechanisms of transfer of social remittances? (3) What are costs and benefits of such transfers?

Theoretical framework of the project replies to discourses in migration research in relation to: first, public sphere (Habermas 1984), second, transnational communities (Basch, Glick-Schiller & Szanton Blanc 1997) and third, in relation to social capital (Bourdieu 1986).

Public sphere was barely considered from the perspective of social remittances and migrant’s roles in integrating or disintegrating it. In this context migrants can serve as a resource to the public sphere and they may be potential community development aid (Levitt 1998). Transnational communities are widely discussed in migration research (Portes 1996; Appadurai 1990) but there is a shortage of systematic analysis of social remittances (Levitt 1998; 2011).

Research interests on social remittances of contemporary Polish migrants presented in this application are grounded both theoretically and methodologically.

First, social remittances, contrary to other aspects of Polish migration studies, have been never explored before in a systematic way and also not so often explored in international migration studies. Second, comprehensive research of social remittances with the aim of qualitative method will supply more in-depth knowledge on time-lag social effects of international migration of Poles. Third, the current project coordinated by the principal investigator ‘Occupational careers and socio-occupational mobility of migrants’ (N N116084339) shows clearly how important is further research on ‘soft skills’ and other ‘social items’ of migrants which are connected also to transfer of the ideas, attitudes, identities and social capital (Levitt 1998).

Therefore, the present project assumes that transfer of social remittances depends on opportunity structures (Merton 1996) met in both sending and receiving locations after or in-between migration reflected in people’s life stories. That is why the qualitative method is proposed in this project as the method of primary research. The fieldwork will be conducted in both sending and receiving neighbourhoods/ social networks.

Results of the research will be a part of an on-going scientific discussion on analysis of effects of social, political and economic transition in Poland (Giza, Rychard & Marody 2003) and above all will serve as a source of deeper understanding of sociological effects of migration far beyond its only financial effects. Results of the presented research project can be an interesting source of information to the wide array of readers and can be an invaluable source of knowledge on human capital and development to local governments and national policy makers.

The Centre of Migration Research is pleased to announce a call for papers for the International Conference “Social remittances and social change in Central Europe”
Warsaw, 19‐20th January 2015.


2012 - 2015

Source of funding

National Science Center, HARMONIA


University of Roehampton