Migrant networks and integration of Ukrainian migrants in Poland – a quantitative and qualitative approach


The research project objective is to determine the role of social networks in migrants’ everyday integration on the example of Ukrainian migrants in Poland. The study will answer one main research question concerning contemporary Ukrainian migrants: What is the relationship between the character of the migrants’ networks and their daily functioning in different dimensions of social life: economic, socio-cultural and legal?

Social networks are defined in this study as a “structured set of social ties between individuals”(Gurak & Cases, 1992, p. 152). The character of social networks is defined through its size, structure and diversity of ties, as well as resources accessible. Everyday integration is defined as engaging in important areas of one’s life, such as work, education or free time (Cherti & McNeil, 2012). Through this engagement migrants want to maintain or increase the standard and quality of living. These aspects of migrants functioning in the destination country relate also to so-called survival tactics, adaptation or integration strategies (ex. Bieniecki & Pawlak, 2009; Frelak & Bieniecki, 2007; Grzymała-Kazłowska et al., 2008). Such an approach to integration allows to reach beyond the analysis of adaptation of settled migrants and allows to capture the everyday functioning of temporary and circular migrants in the receiving society.

With regard to everyday integration of Ukrainian migrants in Poland, a number of studies do conclude that the large size and structure of the informal economy in Poland plays a significant role not only in encouraging the inflow, but also in the functioning of Ukrainian migrants (see for example, Bieniecki et al., 2008; Bojar et al., 2005; Górny et al., 2010; Kicinger & Kloc-Nowak,2008). This pattern was cemented by additional factors, such as societal acceptance for undeclared work, until 2007 costly and time-consuming procedure to register employment and high costs of official employment to the employer. A few studies, mainly qualitative, have looked at strategies of ‘survival’ and everyday ‘coping’ of migrants of temporary or irregular legal status, especially in the Polish labour market (Antoniewski, 2002; Bieniecki& Pawlak, 2009; Frelak &Bieniecki, 2007; Kindler, 2008, 2011). There was also some research on the role of social networks for the everyday functioning of Ukrainian migration in Poland, especially as informal channels of recruitment, but also informal safety nets (for example, Górnyet al., 2010; Grzymała-Kazłowska et al., 2008; Kindler &Szulecka, 2010). An important and rare study is the one by Górny and Toruńczyk-Ruiz (2011), carried out in three areas in Warsaw among migrants and natives, which shows that social networks are more important to migrants than to natives. The planned study will contribute to filling the existing research gap by providing quantitative and qualitative data for a thorough analysis on the role of social networks for everyday migrant integration.

The research will be conducted with the use of the following methods:

1) Survey. A survey will be carried out on the respondents’ sample of 500 Ukrainian migrants, based on a questionnaire and on the Respondent Driven Sampling technique. The analysis of the data will allow to gain knowledge on the character and resources of migrant networks, as well as on the degree migrant networks quality may impact migrants everyday integration.

2) In-depth interviews. Approximately 40 semi-structured in-depth interviews will be conducted with migrants and significant members from their networks. The aim of the qualitative part of the study is to identify the mechanisms of the particular types of networks’ functioning in everyday migrant integration in Poland.


2015 - 2019

Source of funding

National Science Center Sonata