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Social Support Amongst Chinese and Polish Migrants in Europe Prof. Robin Goodwin, School of Social Sciences Brunel University, London.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Support Amongst Chinese and Polish Migrants in Europe Prof. Robin Goodwin, School of Social Sciences Brunel University, London."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Support Amongst Chinese and Polish Migrants in Europe Prof. Robin Goodwin, School of Social Sciences Brunel University, London

2 Social Support Social support: ‘social interactions or relationships that provide individuals with actual assistance or with a feeling of attachment to a person or group that is perceived as loving or caring’ (Hobfoll & Stokes, 1988, p. 499). Over the past three decades, social support has been a major topic for social psychological investigation. Support viewed as ‘one of the basic building blocks of social, psychological and biological integrity’ (Hobfoll, et al. 1990, p. 466).

3 Social Support (II) Both formal and informal support networks seen as leading to better health. Social support promotes self-worth, bolsters individuals against stress and helps individuals positively appraise undesirable events. Recent attention to culture as a moderator of benefits of social support. Migration process has number of implications for support receipt.

4 Social Support and Migrants Migrants from different cultures have different support needs (e.g. collectivist vs. individualist groups). Migrants move to different host cultures with different support values and traditions The demanding lifestyle of most migrants may mean: –Little time for building networks –Inability to participate in ‘give and take’ exchanges –Competition between members of own community for work etc. –High expectations from ‘back home’ to ‘deliver’

5 In This Paper Two recent studies conducted with colleagues from around Europe on ‘less studied’ groups Study 1: Chinese migrants in different European countries. Large but understudied migrant group entering different contexts with varied migration histories Study 2: Polish migrants to the UK. Substantial and rapid new migration from country with distinct values (European Values Survey) Common thread: interest in development of social networks and relations with wider host societies.

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7 Chinese Emigration Unprecedented levels since the onset of reforms in 1978 Liberalisation of migration with the Emigration Law of 1985 – ‘leave China fever’ (Pieke, 2006) Educated Chinese participate in graduate programmes in the West (mainly in US) A foreign extension of the domestic phenomenon of xia hai (‘to go to sea’) to give up employment in the state sector and try one’s luck in the market sector (e.g. moving to Southern China where opportunities are better).

8 Chinese migration – beginning of 20th century – North America

9 Chinese Emigration to Europe Chinese migration to Europe dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century Increased after 1978 and 1985 emigration changes. Total Chinese population in Europe adds up to more than half a million people (Pieke, 2006). No reliable data at all for the number of illegal immigrants. Strict limitations on employment and settlement after graduation largely excluded the benefits of brain-drain from China on which the US capitalized.

10 Research in Europe Scholars mostly dealt with Southeast Asia, North America and Australia. Results remained in unpublished reports or dissertations in local language. More research in countries with large communities: France, Britain, Netherlands Some research on Chinese communities in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Spain

11 Confucian influence and education Educational sphere important area for study; issue of moulding of next generation. Chinese schooling expectations different from that of many European countries. Learning the highest priority: Doing one’s best is paramount. Pass with 4, fail with 5… Perseverance and obedience are essential qualities of a good son and daughter, In Chinese societies teachers are highly respected. Often formal support provision seen as ‘compensatory’; risks viewing minority in terms of deficits.

12 The need to study different countries Many aspects of the Chinese presence can be properly understood only when studied on a European rather than a national level (Pieke, 2006) Presence of Chinese in different European countries varies greatly, as do histories of migration. Comparing the experiences of Chinese groups in different European countries throws greater light on their adaptation processes. A study of different perception and treatment of them in different countries can focus on the contextual factors

13 A Four-country Study Germany Hungary Spain UK Project colleagues: –Marta Fulop and LanAnh Nguyen Luu, Hungary –Kerstin Goebels, Germany –Hector Grad and Luisa Martin Rojo, Spain –Project Funder: British Academy

14 Germany First Chinese arrived in Germany in the 1820s. At present second largest PRC national community in Europe. Second biggest number to seek asylum in Europe is also in Germany. 16 Chinese students and academic associations in Germany. Not seen as a “problematic” immigrant group. Often musicians and actors in public limelight

15 Britain Dominated by Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysian Chinese. Lowest recorded unemployment rate of any group. Upwardly mobile. Speak English fluently or fairly well. Males have the highest proportion of all ethnic minorities with a university degree. Chinese British women more than twice as likely to have a university degree than British European. Young Chinese have high self-esteem and positive feelings about themselves and society. Relatively unlikely to report racial discrimination compared to other ethnic groups

16 Spain Chinese immigration is recent – mainly from Zhejiang province (70%). Spanish teachers have generally low educational expectations of immigrant children. Lack of Chinese students asking questions. Seen as being dumb and not wanting to integrate (Perez. 2006). Teachers highlight deficits of students. Despite Chinese students seen as well behaved their educational achievement is low. Chinese students mostly join their parents’ business instead of continuing with higher education

17 Hungary Various international surveys show low lack of integration tolerance in Hungary After , Chinese communities appeared. Largely northern Chinese. These largely arrived by the Trans- Siberian trains from Beijing and Chinese from Zhejiang province. Now about 7% of immigrants. Chinese parents have above the average income in Hungary – but low prestige: connected to small shops Chinese school in Budapest: open to Chinese and Hungarian children, emphasizes transnational “double” identity, teachers and textbooks are also from China As in other countries: Asian students get into high school (gymnasium) in greater proportion than Hungarian speaking migrant children

18 The Sample CountryNo. Resp.% in sample Germany Hungary Spain UK All218100

19 Sample Demographics Number of years in host country: M = 12.6 years; SD = 6.76 Only 4 respondents were not married About 30% of the respondents originally from Zheijang province in China, about 15% of the participants originally from Hong Kong (in UK). Average number of children is 2 (SD = 0.86), ranging from 1 to 4 children.

20 Method Questionnaire with largely closed-ended questions. Questionnaire completed by mother in Chinese and focused on oldest child. Topics examined included –Social networks (contact with host community and ‘back home’). –Perception of gender and cultural discrimination. –Emotional, practical and informational support to the family for education-related matters. –Child’s social network and integration at school

21 Findings 1: Contact with host and Chinese society Around a third (34%) are member of Chinese associations. 77% like to have contact with other Chinese living in the country. Significantly more Chinese are members of a Chinese association and like to keep contact with Chinese in the UK (p <.05). 87% like to have contact with the host group. Chinese living in the UK and Hungary like to have significantly less contact with host group (26% mothers in UK, 19% in Hungary did not like to have contact). Correlates with both mother and child’s language competence (.15,.19., p<.05).

22 2: Contact With China Contact with China : more than 50% at least weekly. Chinese living in Hungary the most frequent contact, Chinese living in the UK the least (p<.001). 26% send money to China; 40% travel at least once a year to China. 78% read Chinese newspapers at least weekly; 73% watch Chinese television daily. Chinese living in Hungary visit China more, read and watch more Chinese TV and newspapers (p<.001). May be due to language skills (self rated competency lowest for both mothers and the child in Hungary)

23 Practical Support Several aspects of support were reported. These include: –Half of respondents mentioned they received help for school equipment and obtaining books. –17% mentioned they received financial support. Spain least need (except for financial help); UK the most need.

24 Informational Support Where to send the child to school mentioned by 63% as a need (41% received this information) Child’s progress in school mentioned by 53% (52% received this). Homework related support noted by 23% (70% got support for this)

25 Emotional Support Most commonly mentioned problem was underachievement (53%). However 39% mentioned bullying, 29% discrimination. Help for these (from different sources) was mentioned by 48% mothers (underachievement), 71% (discrimination) and 61% (bullying). Problems most likely to be reported by UK mothers, but these also reported getting most help (p<.001). Almost all in UK managed to get help with problems.

26 Support Sources (%)

27 Teachers’ Treatment Most (75%) mothers suggest teachers treat Chinese and host students equally well. Chinese mothers in Germany felt teachers encourage host students more (33%). 92% mothers overall thought teachers equally encourage boys and girls

28 Teachers treatment/ efforts with the child and parent

29 Child’s Network 94% have friends in school. 58% friends among hosts. 27% amongst Chinese (more in Hungary). 15% other nationalities.

30 Children’s networks

31 Social Integration in General How well do Chinese people in the host country get on with the people of the host country in general? (From 1=very easy to 4=not easy at all) No country difference. M = 2.45; SD = How well do Chinese people in the host country understand to deal with problems at school? (From 1=very well to 4=not at all well) No country difference. M = 1.97; SD = Chinese mothers living in Hungary and UK significantly less satisfied with life overall (SWLS) (p<.05).

32 In Our Study… Parental values the same among Chinese in the four country. Iimportance of education is highly valued. Discrimination in education is not experienced by the majority of respondents. No country differences. Support is sufficiently provided from a range of different sources. Bullying and discrimination is highest in the UK but the highest rate of help too. Children and parents are satisfied with children’s integration to school. Children are well embedded in peer social network.

33 Poles In Britain

34 Poles in the UK Polish migration the largest single European migration since the expansion of the EU east in The UK the most popular country of destination; Estimates difficult but between 400,000 (registered workers) and 1 million have come to the UK since may Poles now represent the 3 rd largest ethic minority in the UK Unusually widely spread. Large numbers in small villages/ towns unused to large-scale migration (e.g. Scottish islands).

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36 Looking for work

37 Social integration I think that frankly they haven’t got the time if they are working a 12-hour day, seven days a week” Dr. Jan Mokrzycki, Federation of Poles in Great Britain

38 Our Study Longitudinal two-year study of value and belief change and its relationship to social integration, support networks, use of formal services (e.g. NHS) and political participation. Data collected online (www.polesinbritain.org.uk). Participants new migrants to the UK (no more than 3 months). Data collected in 3 waves: July/ August 2007 (completed) + 9 months + 9 months. 400 respondents at phase 1. In addition: 30 Polish migrants interviewed twice, a year apart. Just completed phase 1 of study.

39 Research Team Sponsor: British Academy Researcher: Kinga Kunowska Other research participants: –Dr Anat Bardi (University of Kent) –Prof Pascale Allotey (Brunel University)

40 Participant Recruitment Very wide range of recruiting –Food shops (specialist) and newsagents in Polish areas. –Door to door leafleting. –Polish language magazines (Cooltura, Goniec etc). –Internet sites (onet.eu; londynek.net, Poles in Glasgow etc). Internet cafes. –Churches (Masses, outside) and priests’ contacts. –Terminal 5 building. –Employment agencies for Poles. –Community organisations (e.g. BARKA). –Victoria Coach station.

41 Our Sample 618 questionnaire respondents. 50:50 sex distribution > 2/3rds arrived in previous 3 months (419) Largest group left school with matura (39%) Sizeable population with University qualifications (27%). Most in full time paid work in the UK (61%) but 16% part time paid work and 17% without work. Work in wide variety of professions; 2/3rds manual work (porters, cooks, warehouses, cleaners, pickers). Also some software engineers, business consultants, doctors…

42 Further Demographics Almost 70% single; 25% married. 24% with children; 43% have other relatives in the UK Most intend to stay for a further 2-5 years (38%) or more than 5 years (25%). After that most thought they would return to Poland (2/3rds of those who knew). However around half intended to apply for British citizenship. Respondents were from across Britain

43 25% Actual N Indicator of sample spread

44 Who Gave Help?

45 Getting help (2) Three-quarters (76%) had someone they could turn to to discuss intimate topics. They felt their relations with British people were generally ‘moderately’ close; only 9% said ‘very close’, 22% ‘very superficial’. They felt they made British friends ‘from time to time’ although ‘most of their friends were Polish’.

46 Transnational Support: Help From Back Home…

47 Group Memberships and Contacts Few were members of either formal or non-formal workplace organisations (only 5%). 11% belonged to Polish clubs; 10% to other non- Polish groups in Britain. Most never or very rarely attended events especially for the Polish community (90%). 71% never (50%) or rarely (21% less than monthly) attended Polish churches. 71% had no contact with the established older Polish community in Britain.

48 Social distance: Willingness to have a British person as…

49 Discrimination: How Poles Believe They Are Perceived?

50 Polish Study: Conclusions So Far Poles recently arrived in Britain get their practical assistance primarily from family members, and emotional help from their partners. They report relatively low levels of discrimination. Polish friends are important for giving informational support; others (such as British friends or Polish community groups) gave relatively little social support, although it may not have been required. Those ‘back home’ provide mainly emotional aid, rather than practical or informational. They are willing to engage in social relations up to a point with their British hosts, but are more sceptical about longer term relationship commitments.

51 Final Remarks (1) These two very different studies examined support networks and inter-group relations amongst under- studied ethnic minorities in Europe. Findings for both are relatively positive, suggesting that the Chinese in four countries, and Poles in the UK, perceive relatively low levels of discrimination. Both largely perceived as ‘hard working migrants’. The (low) relevance in terms of community groups for both the Chinese and Poles is notable. These groups are perceived as providing provided relatively little emotional, informational or practical support.

52 Final Remarks (2) Language competency may be importance in links with host community (Chinese study) but willingness for really intimate social interaction (such as marriage) may be more limited even amongst less “visible” minorities (Polish data). Contact with ‘back home’ likely to be important, but support available may be largely emotional rather than practical or informational. Culture of the host may be significant and may of course interact with immigration legislation in determining future community numbers.

53 Thank You! For more details of these and other projects follow the links at


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