Settlement of Polish Nationals in Greater Manchester



 William Shankley ,PhD student, Applied Social Research, University of Manchester


I am a first year PhD student at the University of Manchester and I’m part of the research group – Centre of Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), which is looking at ethnicity in the United Kingdom.  My PhD project is looking at Eastern European communities in the Greater Manchester area with a specific interest in their internal migration and settlement patters as well as the accompanying decision making process that informs where they move to and settle.

I am from Ecuador in South American and moved to the UK at a young age. I grew up in Surrey and the Greater London area. I have previously studied in Manchester and gained a MA in Humanitarianism from the University of Manchester and a MSc in Psychology from the University of Liverpool. I also hold a bachelor’s degree from the University of Liverpool in psychology.

I have previously worked in the mental health and internal development sectors and have worked overseas in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and India. My interests are in international and internal migration, refugee studies, ethnicity and diversity. I am very interested in collaborating with Europia to add to the work that they are undertaking on east and central European communities in the Greater Manchester area.


I have worked extensively overseas and I am very used to working in a multicultural team. I am also familiar with working with migrant communities and have worked extensively with interpreters. One element of my previous position was building partnerships with community groups and other local stakeholders to support projects that have focused on empowering and supporting migrant communities.


Research project outline


The aim of the proposed research is to investigate the internal migration patterns of Polish migrants in England and the factors that inform their migration decision-making.

Research Questions

  1. What is the direction of Polish internal migration in England; are post accession Polish migrants moving from more urban areas to more suburban and rural areas? Are they moving from more ethnically diverse areas to less ethnically diverse areas?
  2. What factors drive/shape their internal migration decisions? What are their neighbourhood experiences of living in Greater Manchester and what factors shape their aspirational internal migration decisions?

Research rationale

Where people move to and why has been of the utmost importance to politicians, policy-makers, local/community stakeholders as well as the general public. As Britain’s population has become increasingly diverse, the dynamics of ethnicity and patterns of migration have come under the spotlight. Furthermore the characteristics of the migrants and the push and pull factors that have framed their decision to migrate to the UK have been heavily scrutinized. Major discourses exists in migration studies and population diversity and extensive work has been undertaken on Britain’s Caribbean, South Asian and Irish ethnic minority groups, however Britain has entered somewhat of a migration renaissance which Vertovec (2007) described as an era of ‘super-diversity’ where migrants moved to Britain from a wide variety of countries and no longer were the exclusive remnants of Britain’s colonial past.

One particular route or pathway of new migration to Britain has been the direct result of the expansion of the European Union that has seen large-scale immigration of Polish citizens to the UK. A plethora of research has been conducted on the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors that surrounded accession international; however there has been a redundancy of information about the internal migration trajectories of this new migration group. Furthermore, their has been arguably been an overemphasis by those who study ethnicity in the United Kingdom on visible and non-white immigration as opposed to visible and ethnically White immigration groups. This has ignored the diversity that east and central European people have brought to British life. Moreover, little knowledge has been gathered about what factors have underpinned Polish migrants internal migration decisions. .

It has been over a decade since the European Union expanded its borders eastwards and led to the inclusion of many former communist states in the eastern part of European territory. Polish migrants were by far the largest migrant group from Eastern Europe who against many initial studies on the nature of the new post accession Polish migration patterns were not transient or temporary with many migrants settling and establishing themselves long term in the UK. What has been missing from accounts of Polish migration has been the subsequent migration trajectories following their initial point of entry or destination neighbourhood which widely departed from previous waves of migration to Britain as many post accession migrants moved directly into suburban and rural neighbourhoods as well as urban and gateway neighbourhoods that were usually reserved abstractly as the place of population diversification. Furthermore, in an era where migration (both international and internal) have become highly politically charged matters and also growing concern about societal dislocation along ethnic lines has reared its ugly head once again, little has been undertaken to investigate the dimensions of Polish and whether it sits neatly against the socio-spatial linkages that have been well established for BEM’s in Britain. These trends have supported patterns towards counter-urbanization and movement of BEM’s to more ethnically mixed neighborhoods. It is these large-scale questions that this proposed PhD seeks to address for the new Polish migrant community in England and add to the dialogue on internal migration and diversity for this new ethnic minority group.


 To determine the direction of the post accession Polish community’s internal migration in England as well as the factors that shape their internal migration decisions, a mixed-methods PhD research design was proposed as the most appropriate research design to answer the research questions. As such the research will contain both quantitative and qualitative research elements that will use different types of data (numeric and verbal) to describe the internal migration of the Polish migrant group at a sub national geographical level.


 The quantitative section of the PhD will focus directly on answering the research questions relating to the directionality of the sub national flows of Polish usual residents in England as well as the migrant characteristics of the movers and settlers. The data sources that will be used are different statistical releases from the Census (England and Wales) 2011. The data releases include the; 1) Census 2011 key statistics; 2) the Census 2011 micro data; 3) Commissioned origin-destination LAD/ward level data 4) Commissioned migration area data for usual residents in LAD/wards in England.


The qualitative section of the PhD will focus directly on answering the factors the underpinned the migration decisions of Polish migrants in the Greater Manchester area. Semi-structured interviews will be used as well as biographical accounts of the migrants that detail their previous migration trajectories as well as their migration aspirations. The interviews will be audio-recorded and because some of the interviews maybe conducted in Polish an interpreter may be used. Therefore the interview data might be shared with the interpreter in order to facilitate the interview. To conform with ethical guidelines the interpreter will sign a form to state that all data will be kept confidential.


 The sample is a purposive sample with the hope that 15 Polish interviewees will be gained from each of the two case study research sites. This will make a total sample of 30 interviewees. As the PhD is a mixed methods PHD, the sample will need to be appropriate and feasible given practical issues such as access and data collection time constraints. The sample size also will reflect the realities of pursuing a mixed-methods PhD research project. This is to reflect the extensive time demands that quantitative and qualitative data analysis places on a research project. The rationale for collecting equal numbers of respondents from the two case study sites is because it is anticipated that their internal migration trajectories will be different and so too will the factors that motivate their internal migration decisions. As with any study on migrants or difficult to access communities, respondents will be recruited using a snowball sampling frame. This will result in respondents making recommendations for future study respondents via their social networks and connections.


All of the Greater Manchester area  with the aim of  targeting high levels of Polish immigration, ethnic diversity, deprivation, health and education/qualifications to observe the internal migration trajectories of the post accession Polish community. Interviews will be conducted in public spaces such as the library and coffee shops in order to adhere to the risk assessment and ensure the safety and practicalities of conducting research with adult participants. In addition, I will ensure that I contact my supervisors before I interview clients and again after the interview to ensure that I have finished collecting data and left the case study site.



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