Hungarian and Romanian migrant workers in the UK: Racism without racial difference?

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sociology

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This research examined the ways in which recent East European migration to the UK has been racialised. Over the past several years, about a million and a half East Europeans have come to the UK. In many respects, these migrants look like past migrants to the UK: they left poorer parts of the world in search of work and the better life in the UK. But in other respects, they look different from many of those who arrived before them: they're white. The link between racism and migration is well-documented. But what happens when migrant and host are supposedly the same 'race'? Our examination of Hungarians (representing the first and larger 2004 group of migrants) and Romanians (representing the second and smaller 2007 group of migrants) revealed that these migrants have not been spared the effects of racism. We found evidence of a legacy of institutionalised racism in an immigration policy that continues to favour European workers over non-European workers and examples of cultural racism in the tabloid media that vilify migrant workers from East Europe as morally suspect, culturally backward, and collectively responsible for a host of societal ills. But East European migrant workers are not just the targets of racism; they are also its perpetrators. We also found evidence of Hungarians and Romanians wielding racial stereotypes to describe others and defend their precarious position in the UK labour market. In these various ways racism has been reinvented in the context of these recent migrations to the UK.
Exploitation Route The main way in this research can be used in non-academic contexts is to help integrate East Europeans who have settled in the UK. One dimension of that integration is living with diversity. The current research shows that the diversity East Europeans encounter in the UK is not only unfamiliar to them but is also often received with fear, hostility, and racism. Diversity is not simply a condition; it is something that has to be learned. Efforts can thus be made to help East Europeans gain a better understanding and appreciation of diversity in the UK in an effort to not only facilitate their own integration but to also improve their relations with others in the UK. This research is directly relevant to questions surrounding the integration of East European migrants in the UK in two ways. First, it draws attention to the ways in which the vilification of East Europeans in both political and media discourse can sometimes have racialised undertones. Singling out East Europeans as the cause of various societal ills (benefit shopping, crime, etc) presents a distorted picture of East Europeans that impugns their character and ignores their contribution to society. Uncovering the racialised dimensions of these discourses should alert media watchdogs and other concerned observers to the nature of the problem. Second, the research can contribute meaningfully to dialogue on and policy proscriptions for community cohesion. By raising awareness of the heretofore hidden problem of East European racism it offers concerned policymakers an opportunity to engage with East European communities in the UK to foster better relations with some of Britain's more established communities. This project ran a local workshop on living with diversity which can serve as a model for future dialogue and engagement between East Europeans and other minority communities in the UK.
Sectors Education,Healthcare

 
Description Questions of racism and discrimination both against and by Hungarians and Romanians has been of interest to different audiences in both the UK and Hungary. In Hungary I have been invited to share my research findings and insights at roundtable discussions about regional cooperation. The press in the UK and Hungary has also shown an interest in the research.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description East Europeans in Bristol : the challenges of diversity
Amount £500 (GBP)
Funding ID RES-622-26-639 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2012 
End 12/2012
 
Description East Europeans in Bristol : the challenges of diversity
Amount £500 (GBP)
Funding ID RES-622-26-639 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2012 
End 12/2012
 
Description Denying discrimination: East European migrant workers in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This is a paper on the ways in which Hungarians and Romanians deny and deflect discrimination in order to maintain and enhance their status in Britain's racialised status hierarchies. The paper was presented to a Departmental Seminar at the Copenhagen Business School.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Home sweet home? : ambivalent representations of the homeland amongst Hungarians and Romanians in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact In this paper, we explore homeland perceptions amongst recent Hungarians and Romanians in Britain. Whilst both Hungarians and Romanians entertain mixed feelings towards 'home', we find that Romanians' views tend to be significantly more negative in tone and scope, despite their more disadvantaged position in Britain compared to Hungarians. In order to understand more fully migrants' divergent homeland perception, we suggest that broader migration histories coupled with migrants' expectations and subjective evaluations of their present status help to illuminate the puzzling differences between Hungarians' and Romanians' homeland representations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Immigration and identity 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation exploring the ways in which language-use shapes the identities of Hungarian and Romanian migrang workers in Bristol
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Migration and racism : East European migrant workers in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact In many respects, recent migrants from East Europe look like past migrants to the UK: they all left poorer parts of the world in search of work and the better life in the UK. But in other respects, these migrants look different: they're white. The link between racism and migration has been well-documented. Racism is the language through which social exclusion is expressed and constituted. But what happens when migrant and host are supposedly the same 'race'? Does shared whiteness safeguard these East European migrants from the deleterious effects of racism? The aim of this talk to examine this question from three perspectives: immigration policy, the tabloid media, and the migrants themselves. The case of East European migration will demonstrate that the absence of marked differences in skin pigmentation doesn't much get in the way of racism: it turns out racialised difference can be invented in situ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Migration, ethnicity, and racism: The view from the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Public lecture on Roma migration to the UK, focusing on their reasons for migrating, their reception in the UK, and problems of racism.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description The experience of East European migrants in the UK suggests that there is racism towards newcomers regardless of racial difference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Jon Fox looks at the racialisation of migration in the UK. While immigration policy can be seen as managed to maximise economic benefits, it is also done in a way that seeks to minimise social disturbances. Migrants are often portrayed in the tabloids not as upstanding workers trying to eke out a living, but as dangerous social parasites preying on their well-meaning hosts. However, for tabloids, shared 'whiteness' is not enough; cultural differences operate as a criterion for exclusion.

LSE's British Politics and Policy Blog
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/09/22/rascism-migrants/

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/09/22/rascism-migrants/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/09/22/rascism-migrants/
 
Description The racialisation of East European migration in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This talk provided a general historical and political overview of the racialisation of migration in the UK, with a focus on the current case of East Europeans.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description The state, media, and racialisation of Hungarian and Romanian migration to the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This talk examined the ways in which immigration policy and the tabloid media contribute to the racialisation of East European migration in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description White and European? : Hungarians and Romanians in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Lecture exploring the ways in which East European migrant workers are both victims and perpetrators of racism.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description White and European? : Hungarians and Romanians in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation examining the role of the media in racialising East European migrant workers in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011