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Centre of Migration Research

Aleksandra Grzymała-Kazłowska. 2015.

The Role of Different Forms of Bridging Capital for Immigrant Adaptation and Upward Mobility. The Case of Ukrainian and Vietnamese Immigrants Settled in Poland


Ethnicities, Vol. 15(3) | pages: 460-490


This paper analyses the adaptation strategies of Vietnamese and Ukrainian immigrants having permit for settlement in Poland and settled in Warsaw and its vicinity (namely in the Mazowieckie province), with an emphasis on the relationship between the cultural, social and economic dimensions of adaptation. The research showed that due to the large cultural distance between the Vietnamese and Polish societies as well as the specific socio-cultural characteristics of Vietnamese immigrants (e.g. strong ethnic identity and a high level of in-group ties) the concept of adaptation should be reconsidered and a more holistic approach should be taken. From an individualistic perspective, a strategy of separation was most visible among the Vietnamese, whereas from a group and culturally sensitive perspective a strategy of collective and intermediate integration was predominant in this group along with collective social mobility. Vietnamese immigrants who were integrated with Polish society, such as pioneer immigrants, Vietnamese leaders, the spouses of Poles and representatives of the 1.5 and 2nd generations played the role of cultural brokers. They mediated between their compatriots and Polish society. Thus the integration of the majority of immigrants took place through the agency of the representatives, who also had a key role in the formation of the Vietnamese enclave. In the case of Ukrainian migrants the close cultural distance between the Polish and Ukrainian societies as well as the volume and density of relations between Ukrainian immigrants and Poles (including very frequent mixed marriages) primarily led to assimilation and individual social mobility. Cases of migrants operating in transnational social spaces which encompass Ukrainians, Poles and migrants from other post-Soviet countries remained rare. Ukrainian immigrants mainly based their adaptation on bridging capital accumulated in strong ties (which was related to their Polish spouses and cultural assimilation), whereas the Vietnamese migrants predominantly used bridging capital generated in weak ties as a resource for adaptation.


Immigrants in Poland, the Vietnamese, Ukrainians, adaptation strategies, integration, assimilation, social capital, social ties, immigrant economy