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Title: Negotiating the transition to adulthood : the experiences of Polish young people in rural Northumberland
Author: Gill, Sean
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 1849
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the everyday lives and experiences of young Poles aged sixteen to twenty-four who are living and growing up in Northumberland, rural north east England, as they make their transitions to adulthood. Transitions to adulthood are always complicated and complex. Since the 1970s traditional pathways into adult life have become less standardised, heterogeneous, differentiated and elongated, and it has also been argued that there is an increase of individualisation across cohorts, with individual agency serving a greater role in shaping the lifecourse (Furlong and Cartmel, 2007; Jones, 2009). The young people who took part in this research migrated to Northumberland from Poland, with their families, after European Union enlargement in 2004. Existing research has developed a clear and nuanced picture about those Poles who migrated to the UK after 2004 (e.g. Burrell, 2009). However, very little attention has been paid to the perspectives of those young people who migrated with their families. Based on fifteen interviews with stakeholders (e.g. school teachers and community members), and forty interviews and eleven lifegrids with the young Poles, this research makes sense of how the experience of migration to the UK has influenced how this group of young people think about themselves, and in what ways this then shapes the choices and decisions that they were making on their transitions to adulthood. At first it could be assumed that there was something quite ordinary about the transitions to adulthood the young Poles were making; they could be mapped onto those discussed by the stakeholders in the first phase of the research and documented in the existing literature. However, the young Poles' transitions were more complex than this. The young Poles frequently made reference to the sacrifices that their parents had made in order to provide them with opportunities. There was an expectation that they would do well at school and go on to university. However, some of the young Poles felt that the experience of migration constrained their transitions. The age that they migrated from Poland impacted on their experiences. Many of the young Poles played significant roles in their families, for example being expected to act as translators when parents spoke little or no English. They felt these experiences made them more mature in relation to their peers. Some of the young Poles talked about their Polishness being an asset or employable skill as they made their transitions. I explore how the young Poles constructed and negotiated their identities in their everyday lives, and through particular events, drawing on examples iv from Christmas, the Polish Saturday School or on return visits to Poland. Overall, the thesis demonstrates that Polishness and the experience of migration exerts a strong influence over their identities and lives as they make their transitions to adulthood.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available