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Title: Migrant social networks and the contingent role of ethnicity
Author: Morosanu, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 5290
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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My thesis examines how ethnicity matters to ordinary Romanian migrants living and working in London. Contrary to tendencies to overemphasise ethnicity in migration research, I do not assume the relevance of ethnicity but instead start from a (non- ethnicised) social network approach that allows me to appreciate how migrants' various social relations are understood and experienced in ethnic and/or non-ethnic ways. The study has two broad aims: first, to explore the migrants' social relations both at destination and transnationally, and second, to assess the extent to which ethnicity informs the experience of these varied social relations. The research is based on 40 in-depth interviews with Romanians in high-skilled and low-skilled occupations, sampled through a balanced number of ethnic institutions and non- ethnically marked routes. I discuss four types of social relations in four separate chapters. First, I show how Romanians forge ties and socialise with migrants of different origins. Second, I examine migrants' professional ties with locals and their role in occupational attainment. Third, I look at how migrants relate to coethnics and coethnic institutions in London. Fourth, I examine the role and experience of migrants' cross-border social connections. I find that ethnicity is not the main framework through which migrants make sense of their social relations. Rather, Romanians' non-native (but not necessarily ethnic minority) status in London shapes their interactions with locals, other migrants, and life opportunities more profoundly than does their understanding of themselves as Romanians. Similarly, I find that the migrants' cross-border social ties have little ethnic substance. Although not primarily or permanently salient, ethnicity does sometimes inform the migrants' interactions and actions in compelling ways. However, contrary to the common rhetoric of ethnic identities and solidarities, ethnicity primarily emerges in my case as a negative discourse of avoidance and resentment towards 'Romanians'. I further identify various positive facets of ethnicity, for example as an instrumental resource or as an ingredient of cosmopolitan socialisation. Whilst challenging the overethnicisation of migrant experiences, my research thus offers a balanced assessment of ethnicised and non-ethnicised experiences of migrants' different social ties.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available