Migration, structures of feeling and pathways to inclusion and exclusion, migrant workers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Poland

  • RadosÅ‚aw Polkowski

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Drawing on a concept well-established in social theory, but not yet applied by scholars of migration, namely, the concept of Structures of Feeling, the thesis develops a novel perspective on the role of the context of departure and destination in shaping migration experiences, especially the experience of inclusion and exclusion. The main argument of the thesis is that migration involves a continuous process of migrants interpreting and reinterpreting a country of departure and destination, a process driven by ethics relevant to migrants. The experience of these ethics, largely shaped by the employment trajectories of migrants, can vary depending on a country or locality within it and, therefore, results in different experiences and interpretations of, or simply, different Structures of Feeling in connection with different places. In this process people also interpret and reinterpret themselves and their relationship with different places involved in migration. In this way, Structures of Feeling can affect people's sense of belonging and their migration decisions, especially decisions regarding settlement. By exploring this phenomenon, the study reveals complex subjective processes involved in migration.This conceptual framework emerged from the qualitative analysis of data from nearly 100 interviews with 50 migrant workers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Poland. The thesis shows that interviewees experienced work and life abroad through the prism of three ethics connected with neoliberalism. Differences in the experiences of these ethics in the country of departure and destination mediated their sense of inclusion and exclusion and gave rise to the dual-idealisations of a place of departure and arrival which, in turn, affected their settlement decisions. Moreover, it is demonstrated that, while these experiences may not seem straightforwardly different across the three destinations taken into account in this study, certain context-specific variations can be identified, too. These are accounted for by the notion of Local Structures of Feeling.
Date of Award16 Dec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorPaul Stewart (Supervisor) & Dora Scholarios (Supervisor)

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