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Differentiated belonging, embedding and anchoring. The comparative studies of young adult Central European migrants in light of Brexit and pandemic

Theoretical Relevance
This Paper Cluster, offered to Comparative Migration Studies, presents theoretical and empirical insights into the processes of belonging, embedding and anchoring of migrants and return migrants in temporal, comparative and international perspectives. Drawing on new mixed methods, empirical data with Polish and Lithuanian migrants in the UK, and returnees back to the origin countries, these papers use Brexit as a lens to develop theoretical innovations. Through the application of the theoretical lens of anchoring and embedding, we aim to gain new understandings of complex, multi-level and dynamic processes across various domains, sectors and segments of life. In so doing, the papers in this cluster go beyond simplistic, static and one-dimensional notions of migration integration in destination societies or, indeed, reintegration in the origin society.

Comparative perspective
Three of the papers arise from the project CEEYouth: The comparative study of young migrants from Poland and Lithuania in the context of Brexit and thus draw on a comparative dataset. Comparing Polish migrants, who have been very extensively researched, with less researched Lithuanian migrants, provides a valuable opportunity to explore similarities and differences in the migration/ return patterns and experiences from these two Central European countries.

The fourth but first in the row – conceptual paper - focuses on Poles but in two different UK sites, London and the Midlands. This paper advances the concepts of anchoring and embedding to analyse the opportunities and obstacles for forging belonging/ attachments and the potentially unsettling impact of Brexit in London, which voted against, and Midlands which showed more support for Britain’s departure from the EU.

Methodological aspects
The four papers draw upon a range of methods including surveys, interviews, ethnography, longitudinal techniques and social network visualisation, also with a use of mixed-method approach. In the CEEYouth research project the data was obtained comparatively for Poles and Lithuanians through both asynchronous and synchronous interviewing but also online survey with returnees and secondary analysis of public statistics. The fact that the research team was in contact with interviewees longitudinally, throughout the course of three years – through the entire process of Brexit and pandemic – in both synchronous (interviews) and asynchronous (email and messenger) ways can make the contribution to CMS very innovative and up-to-date.

Edited by Izabela Grabowski, Louise Ryan

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