The transformative potential of migration: Polish migrants’ everyday life experiences in Belfast, Northern Ireland’

Justyna Bell, Markieta Domecka

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In this article, we analyse the processes of migration from the perspective of agency-structure debate. In particular, we focus on the reflexive and emotional aspects of geographical movement and the complex relations between the settlement context, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and migrating people, with their biographies, gender positioning, resources and agency. The movement across space is biographically significant, as it is often meant to resolve economic, family or personal difficulties. However, the geographical movement in itself is not necessarily empowering. We bring the notion of migration as potentially transformative but only when it is accompanied by structural enablements and agential powers of reflexivity. The reflection on one’s life course and the relations between self and the changing context of action shapes the migration experiences profoundly, which may further lead to shifts in gender positioning. The dynamics of shaping and being shaped is constantly present between migrants and the new context: the place influences everyday practices and, at the same time, the place is influenced by everyday actions and their reflexive elaboration. This article sheds light on these reflexive processes through the lens of gender.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866
Number of pages881
JournalGender, Place & Culture
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2017

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