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Abstract  

Return migration has been increasingly gaining prominence in migration research as well as in migration policies across the world. However, in some regions, such as the Caucasus, the phenomenon of return migration is little explored despite its significance for the region. Based on 64 interviews with returnees and key informants together with additional online surveys with Armenian migrants, this study discusses important issues about return and reintegration with policy implications. It covers voluntary returnees as well as the participants of the assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes and presents the case for a multiplicity of the return migration motivations and experiences which are dependent on the return preparedness and the strategies which the returnees use. 

Abstract  

This article looks at the mobility of highly skilled female migrants from the perspective of the post-socialist semi-peripheral countries in Eastern Europe. It analyses chosen aspects of the biographical experiences of highly skilled women from three post-USSR republics bordering the European Union – namely Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia – in Poland, a post-socialist country itself but also an EU member-state. The empirical analysis focuses on their lifestyle changes and choices, made through the experience of living in a new, though quite familiar Polish culture, which is both more emancipated (Western) while, at the same time, pertaining to some of the familiar (Eastern) patterns. Due to this liminal nature of the host country, the adaptation process of migrants is easier and comes at a lower biographical cost. In the analysis, I explore two notions: the gender roles renegotiation and the changes in the women’s approach towards the external manifestations of femininity, which I contrast with their reflections of the changes undergone. As for the gender role renegotiation, three main approaches were described varying by the degree to which the old, familiar patterns are maintained. In terms of the external notions of femininity, while taking care of one’s looks is still an observable element of the migrants’ identity, they do take advantage of the wider spectrum of options available in the host society, and try to blend in with the casual big-city crowd. The article was written on the basis of empirical material in the form of twenty in-depth, unstructured interviews, which were confronted with the selected subject literature.

Abstract  

Drawing on in-depth interviews with Romanian workers posted in the German construction and meat-processing industries, with representatives of German unions and with migrant advisers, and on ethnographic work, this study examines precarity in posted employment. Firstly, the paper describes the precarious circumstances of Romanians posted in the construction and meat-industry sectors in Germany. Secondly, analysing the Romanians’ own perspectives, it shows that low wages in the country of origin, often associated with insecurity and poor working conditions, drive these workers to engage in posted work. Their lack of knowledge of the German language prevents them from finding and carrying out standard jobs in Germany and, thus, determines that they remain in posted employment. Finally, the paper argues that posted workers experience different layers of precarity in the country of destination. It shows that those under contract with various companies for short periods of time are more precarious than de facto posted workers and workers with long-term informal agreements with one single employer.

Abstract  

Bulgarian migration to the UK has gradually increased since the country’s EU accession and the removal of barriers to free movement of labour across the EU. The sustained popularity of the UK amongst those dreaming for a fresh start through migration, despite the hostility faced by Bulgarian immigrants, poses a paradox that cannot be explained with the ‘push–pull’ and cost–benefit calculation models prevailing in migration research. This article proposes a more balanced understanding of migration motivations on the basis of would-be migrants’ own perceptions. Drawing on biographical interviews with self-ascribed ‘ordinary people’ with long-term plans for settling in the UK, I shed light on individuals’ imaginings and expectations of life after migration. Firstly, I analyse the notion of ‘survival’ through which my informants articulated frustrations with their precarious financial situation, their inferior social and symbolic positioning within society and their inability to partake in forms of consumption and lifestyle that would allow them to experience a sense of social advancement. I then explore would-be migrants’ imaginings of life in the UK (and ‘the West’) which depict an idealised ‘normality’ of life, in which they conveyed longings for security and predictability of life, social justice and working-class dignity and respectability. These insights into people’s disappointment, desperation and disillusionment with a precarious present help us to understand the continuous construction of an ‘imaginary West’ as an ideal ‘elsewhere’, in the search of which migrants are ready to undergo hardship and stigmatisation. By engaging with the existing debates in migration studies and literature on Bulgarian migration, this article exposes the deficiencies of economic reductionism, which presents migration decision-making as a conscious, rational and calculative act and, instead, demonstrates that, very often, people are led by dreams and idealisations that are reflective of their emotions and life-worlds.