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Marek Nowak PhD Institute of Sociology AMU. Migration and Inequalities. Projekt współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu Społecznego.

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marek nowak phd marek nowak@amu edu pl institute of sociology amu
Marek Nowak PhD

Institute of Sociology AMU

Migration and Inequalities

Projekt współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu Społecznego

On the base on: (Post)transformational Migration. Inequalities, Welfare State and Horizontal Mobility (M. Nowak, M. Nowosielski ed.)

why emigrate the banal answer
Why emigrate the: banal answer…

„The role of economic scarcity in fostering migration was especially underlined by the neoclassic theory of push factors and pull factors. Perceived inequalities, such as the lack of a proper job (in relation to others) or bad living conditions (more generally), can play the role of push factors that make people migrate (Lee 1966)”.

what does push factor mean
What does ‘push factor’ mean?

„… focus more on relative deprivation, exacerbated by inequality, as a basic determinant of people’s mobility”

gdp gross domestic product in pps purchasing power standard index in 2011 eu 27 100
GDP (Gross DomesticProduct) in PPS (Purchasing Power Standard) Indexin 2011 (EU-27 = 100)

GDP (gross domestic product) is an indicator for a nation´s economic situation. It reflects the total value of all goods and services produced less the value of goods and services used for intermediate consumption in their production. Expressing GDP in PPS (purchasing power standards) eliminates differences in price levels between countries, and calculations on a per head basis allows for the comparison of economies significantly different in absolute size.

what does pull factors means
What does ‘pull factors’ means?

Attracting selected groups of the labor force because of local/regional economicdemand.


“Structural conditions” are only a part of the story of migration, particularly because differences and inequalities are social facts, elements of the shape of modern open societies”.


„From one side, inequality can be seen as a basic element of competitive society (a sine qua non of capitalist maximalization). From another, it can call up pictures of barriers developing between people—as a consequence of the vertical division of labour, and with the consequence that vertical mobility tends to decrease as result of social barriers—and of a gulf between the “top” and the “bottom” of the society”.

what could influence the migration behavior
What could influence the migration behavior?
  • The politics which could decrease or increase the tension to emigrate;
  • The construction of welfare relation (the welfare policy);
  • Past experiences related to horizontal mobility (as the cultural framework of mobility - generally).
  • Acceptability of migrations a strategy (which is a part of the social context)
  • The intensity of social change - deregulation(in the 90s and the first decade of the 21st century).
The system’s transformation within the context of increasing push factors in Central and Eastern Europe.

“the governments of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia were each spending on average about 10–15 percent of their GDP annually on pensions and other social security benefits [...]. This level of expenditure matched or even exceeded that of the more developed western countries, many of which had been struggling to control government spending and to reform their social security systems for more than two decades” (Inglot 2008).


The key moment of the Polish transformation process could be the second part of the 90s of the 20th century (1998), where began thefast reorientation of the Polish system of production towards thewest European direction (the so called: Russian crisis ).

This could be an important moment for explaining the factors of the mass emigration in the years 2006-8.

subsidiarisation as a context of inequalities and migration
Subsidiarisation as a context of inequalities and migration

„In some cases there was even a kind of a social engineering effort to build the democratic state’s new institutions from the top down, rather than from the bottom up. In both the east and the west, the key notion in this process may be described as an aspect of liberal subsidiarization processes.Which means, it’s worth repeating, bringing responsibility for functions down to a lower level of authority and to the local community”.


„In the Polish case, and less so in the case of the Czech Republic, the darker sides of the […] transformation included the dynamic growth of unemployment (in Poland in the first decade of the twenty-first century, ten years after the start of the transformation, more than 20% of labour force was unemployed), and growing differentiation (asymmetric increases in different social segments, and in different positions in class structure) (Tomescu-Dubrow 2007). ”


„Looking at the basic indicator of social inequality—the Gini coefficient—at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is clear that the processes of social transformation did not have the same trajectories and consequences in all the involved countries and societies. Although states such as Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland now have a relatively high Gini coefficient […] far above the European average, the position of the Czech Republic is different”.


Finally, we observed the different trajectories of „social polarization” (inequalities)

in consequence of the deregulation and marketisation in different national/social contexts. These tend to affect the different scale of international labor flow (hipotesis).

migration before accession to the ue
Migration ‘before’ accession to the UE

Before accession, in the terminology of Grabowska-Lusińska and Okólski,therewas an “incomplete migration” which was invisible from one side, and which from the other side represented a sort of “refrigerator” of a segment of labour power endangered by unemployment (Grabowska-Lusińska, Okólski 2009, pp. 39). They mentioned three main types of migration: (a) circulation migrations; (b) a short period migration; (c) long term migration (emigration in formal nomenclature).

polish migration after the accession to the eu
Polish migration‘after’ the accession to the EU

The migration and emigration (more than 12 months abroad) was much more often, much longer, much more legal, much more common…


Polish migrant to the UK or Ireland [after 2004]: relatively young (based on Polish legal statistics, BAEL/OBM data), having in the case of pre-accession migration an average age of 32 years, or in later waves a little more than 31 years; more likely to be a man than a woman (183 men to every 100 women); possessing greater experience in the labour market (relative to the demographic structure of Polish society) than that of the average 20–29 year-old (Grabowska-Lusińska, Okólski 2009, pp. 97).”


The migration factors seems to not belong to the one simple „scheme” of social reaction, which suggests both: social and cultural answers (thanjust simply the materialdeprivation picture).

Reconceptualisation tends to move from „structural condition” (of the differences in income) to the „processual” relations based on socio-cultural facts.

Possible elements of an explanation might consider the questions of how market-oriented were particular post communist societies, and how successful was the “gestalt switch”. As we know from social surveys, respondents’ orientations are sometimes very different, and may change over time.

the way in which we could conceptualized motives of emigration
Thewayinwhich we couldconceptualizedmotives of emigration…

We can describe two aspects which may have an influence on the social mobility:

1) the personal aspect, which relates to individual rationality, individual motives, the individual condition of the person, as well as the person’s social attitudes, education, life expectations, and so on; and

2) the structural aspect (i.e. what are called “push factors” in the theory of migration behaviour), which in the case of Central and Eastern Europe can be very close to the concept of Durkheim-Merton anomy, or Sztompka’s transformational sociocultural trauma (Sztompka 2000), and which describes common labour relations, typical social mobility patterns, and institutional design.

the eurequal project
The Eurequal project

“The purpose of Eurequal was to create and disseminate knowledge that would facilitate the achievement of greater social equality between individuals, social cohesiveness in societies, democratic and market development, and the broader integration of Europe”.

the main questions of eurequal
The main questions of Eurequal
  • How can we adequately measure the multifaceted character of social inequality?
  • What are the factors at the individual level that are most associated with the patterns of social inequality?
  • What characteristics of the economic, political and institutional arrangements of nations have the greatest positive and negative impact on social inequality?

What are the consequences of social inequality for individual and household economic behaviour, in particular for intra and inter-generational social mobility?

  • What are the consequences of social inequality for political attitudes, especially towards other social groups, and for political behaviour?
  • What are the consequences of social inequality for economic growth, democratic consolidation and international integration?

Table 2. Average answers to the question of the acceptability of emigration (five point Likert scale, from “definitely accepted” to “definitely not accepted”).


Table 8. Standard deviation and average answers (Likert Scale from 1 (agreement) to 5 (disagreement)) to questions on expected government intervention (“What in your opinion is a duty of the state?”) in 13 European countries (the five lowest values of standard deviation are indicated by the numbers in brackets, 1 being the lowest).

final statement
Final statement


As we know (based on the EUREQUAL data), in postcommunist countries the role of the state in relation to problems of employment, healthcare, and the care of old people being a more active one is relatively commonly accepted. Expectations sometimes tend to construct a whole complex etatist syndrome (as in Hungary, for example), or sometimes it may split into a different vision when the problems of employment, healthcare, or (as in the Polish case) pensions play the crucial role.


“welfare policy arguments and institutions exacerbate or ameliorate existing social cleavages and conflicts” (Glass, Marquart-Pyatt, 2007), which in my interpretation may in certain social environments result in more or less high migration tendencies”.



„Inappropriate solutions in the welfare regime may be one of important factors which can increase structural pressure, but at the same time there are no universal rules, and there are—in my opinion—more conditions which distinguish the positions of the citizens of, say, Estonia (where migration is still at a low level), from its neighbour Latvia, where the level of migration is significantly higher”.



“The second important factor relates to the more conscious aspects, an element of the comparison of the chances that the whole system will make “progress” (that is, will in the future result in improved conditions for the individual), with the possibilities of misfortunes in the local community where potential migrants live, all of which may—once again—strengthen or weaken the “push” (to migrate)”.



The third aspect is related to the cultural process of internalizing the “exit” strategy [not „voice” inHirschmanconcept] as an element of universal ideology which creates visions and gives the tools to solve individual problems outside of the context of one society. This is strong in Poland.


This third aspect could be either analysed as a much more longue durée factor, and in this sense reinforces the more general atmosphere of emigration as a solution in the way of the “diffusion of innovations”, where migration experiences are collected in individual histories, and become an element of the culture. This third element is in my opinion relatively


Politics or policy reasons for emigration(IvetaĶešāne, Emigration as a Strategy of Everyday Politics: the Case of Latvian Labour Emigrants in Ireland)

„The free movement of labour gave a legal opportunity to many Latvians to go abroad in order to earn their livelihood, to provide for their families, and also to find self-esteem and fulfilment”.


„ An analysis of the post-Soviet societies by Sztompka (2004) demonstrates that the period following transition shows that much was unexpected about the change, and that the society was not prepared for it. This is despite the fact that Latvians largely welcomed the collapse of the socialist regime and the transition towards the west. In reference to Durkheim, Sztompka refers to this condition as the “anomie of success” (Sztompka, 2004; 157, 158)”

the politics policy way of conceptualising emigration
The politics/policy way of conceptualising emigration

the question of governance becomes the question of self-governance in the discourse and technique of emigration.

understanding of power and self relation to the power governmentality
Understanding of power and selfrelation to thepower (governmentality) …

„‘governmentality’ implies the relation of the self to itself, and I intend this concept of ‘governmentality’ to cover the whole range of practices that constitute, define, organize, and instrumentalize the strategies that individuals in their freedom can use... (Foucault, 2003: 41)” From the 1984 interview, “Concordia”, Revisita internacional de filosophia 6.


I gave birth to my youngest daughter when I was forty... she finished Gaujienas Secondary School, and then I understood that there’s nothing she can do in Alūksne. There’s nothing to do anywhere (HYAN)

I had a good marriage, good education, the children were growing. We were hoping that we would graduate from university and have better salaries. And then everything went to rack and ruin (SLRH)

and other
and other…

We paid an employment agency to find a job. But it was all totally wrong. In our rural area, where we used to live, two big fish processing factories went bankrupt. That was just because there were no cheaters with golden necklaces there, for example, investors, shareholders, the ones able to subordinate. A lot of money has been lost, everyone suffered financial losses. Maybe that is the reason why...There were practically no ways out anymore... (LMNF)


„ I had entered the Polytechnic Institute and graduated from the Technical University [the name of institution was changed after Latvia regained independence]. That was the last year that people studied for five years [...] And we were the last graduates who were neither bachelors nor masters. Also there were no appointments to jobs, nothing—look for a job yourself!And at that moment nobody needed anything anymore and it was like the Russians used to say, kupiipraday[buy and sell]. The most important thing was to trade, to launder money, and at that moment nobody thought about specialists anymore(KGFC)”


I was working in the fish processing factories as a head engineer. I had a disagreement with the employer. It was an issue with a lawyer and all...There was nowhere to complain. There was just one solution: to find a job somewhere else; back at that time I went to Riga to look for a job somewhere. [...] In Riga, they told me that I’m too old and they can’t take me. We need young, forward looking people! Then they told me that they didn’t need me(LMNF)


„… labour emigration from Latvia, at the time of the transition, was for some of the emigrants a type of protest against these new ways of living and the way they were articulated in Latvia, and that emigration provided a mode of “exit” for these people. Moses (2007) ”.


The analysis of emigrants’ self-problematization at the time of their decision demonstrates that it is a strategy of everyday politics for the reason that it attempts to resists and evade limitations set by the mode of state governance and instead increasingly relying on self government.


Emigration and inequalities in the destination country(GuglielmoMeardi, Labour mobility, union immobility? Trade unions & migration in the EU)

Inequalities and migration in the EU labor market is it the problem?


“In debates on the liberalization of the movement of services in the EU (the so-called Bolkenstein Directive), on freedom of movement, and in legal cases concerning “social dumping” in the European Court of Justice, migrants from the new EU member states are often portrayed as a threat to established worker rights in Western Europe”.

the context of percept inequalities
The context of percept inequalities

“Current debates on labour markets are frequently framed within an “insider-outsider” model.

Typically, insiders would be middle-aged male local workers belonging to the ethnic majority, with no disability, while the most typical outsiders are migrants. To guarantee the perpetuation of their advantageous position, insiders have a number of institutional devices—the most typical of which, it is argued, is the trade union”.

the diagnosis from the past
The diagnosis from the past

The insider-outsider idea of migration is rooted in structuralist conceptions of the labour market of Piore (1979), who argued that capitalist economies require continuous flows of new migrants in order to maintain occupational hierarchies, that is to provide labour for low-prestige occupations (marginal jobs). Without migrants, employers would have to pay local workers considerably higher salaries to take these positions, which in turn would have caused demands for higher pay from workers in mainstream jobs, who would not accept being paid as little as those in marginal jobs”.


Migrants are necessary for “keeping” salary low, and balancing prices of labor marketShould trade unions be against migrants (from local laborers perspectives)?


The distinction between insiders and outsiders varies by country, and among industrialized economies it is assumed to be strongest in “Southern European” and “Continental” welfare states, especially Germany (Ferrera, Hemerijck, and Rhodes 2000).

but there is the contr tendency...

the pressure of illegal economy
The pressure of illegal economy…

Watts (2002) reiterates the point on internationalization in the case of the shifts of French, Spanish, and Italian unions towards open migration policies. She also adds two more factors: the importance of the illegal economy (especially in Italy and Spain), with the consequent union interest in channelling migrants towards legal status; and organizational needs in the face of declining membership

restriction policy
Restriction policy

Although they did not formally take a position against enlargement or against the principle of freedom of movement, some western trade unions, especially the German and Austrian ones, supported the introduction of transition periods as protection for the host country labor markets

polish plumber is coming to the stage
Polish plumber is coming to the stage

The mythical figure of the “Polish plumber” was a crucial factor in the French rejection of the European Constitution in the referendum of May 2005. Real tensions emerged in the transport sector, and major disputes occurred in both transport and construction (sectors where labour mobility is a normal occurrence).

strategy exit or voice
Strategy ‘exit’ or ‘voice’

Even if the “voice” of employees in the new member states has remained feeble, their massive exit has forced employers, and to a lesser extent governments, to introduce important concessions, leading to higher than expected wage growth and some improvements in employment conditions.

the integration perspective
The integration perspective

“innovative practices such as cooperation with ethnic associations (e.g. with the Polish Catholic Association in Birmingham) and the setting up of Polish-language sections (in Southampton and Glasgow)”

“focused on two particularly important antidotes to migrant exploitation: provision of information on employment rights, and skills—including recognition qualifications and English language skills”.


“The most significant activity has been the cooperation with eastern European trade unions (mostly Polish, given the “critical mass” of Polish migration), leading to the posting of organizers from the Polish trade unions Solidarity and OPZZ to UK and Ireland, which in turn facilitated the recruitment of activists and organizers among migrants.”


“Most notably, major developments have occurred in cross-border cooperation, especially in the border regions, through the Interregional Trade Union Councils (seven of them involve Austrian or German trade unions and partners from the new member states). In 2006, for instance, DGB, Ver.di and Solidarity jointly protested in the border region against a megastore that was violating worker rights (Szewczyk and Unterschütz 2009). In May 2009, a Polish-German trade union forum was launched in Gdańsk.”

final statement1
Final statement

Migration provides more opportunities than just the movement of services. In particular, migration seems to make it easier for trade unions to “humanize” foreign workers and develop solidarities with them, than does the simple existence of remote foreign subsidiaries. Regarding the freedom of movement of services, the opportunities for socialization are minimal, and the only positive effects come indirectly from broader European labour socialization, in which nationalism tends to be sidelined.