WSF TWS: Migration, Diversity and Welfare

NORFACE WSF Thematic Workshop “Migration, Diversity and Welfare: Knowledges, Gaps and Synergies”, 5 – 6 December 2017, University of Birmingham

Workshop Program [pdf]

Report by Lailah Alidu (UPWEB)

Welfare State Futures in collaboration with Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRIS) University of Birmingham organised a thematic workshop on the topic Migration, Diversity and Welfare: Knowledge, Gaps and Synergies. The workshop was held at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham on the 5th and 6th of December, 2017. The workshop brought together academics working research projects in Europe under the theme migration, diversity and welfare. Some of the projects represented were UPWEB, MIFARE, MobileWelfare, HiNEWS, 4ls and TRANSWEL. This thematic workshop was co-ordinated by Prof Jenny Phillimore of UPWEB, Prof Anna Amelina of TRANSWEL. The aim of the workshop was to share knowledge, identify the gaps and create an opportunity to collaborate.

The workshop started with a welcoming note from Prof Jenny Phillimore of UPWEB, followed by presentations of the various projects from their leaders/representatives (UPWEB, MIFARE, MobileWelfare, HiNEWS, 4ls and TRANSWEL). There was also a session which involved speed networking where participants had the opportunity to meet each other and learn more about each other’s project. Speed-networking was followed with a thematic session involving discussions under the following groups: health, inequalities, mobilities, attitudes and behaviours. These areas were discussed in the context of issues pertaining to migration, diversity and welfare. Participants found these sessions very insightful and thought provoking as it helped them identify gaps in research and potential new areas of research to explore. Later in the evening participants had dinner at the University of Birmingham’s Astor Restaurant, which also encouraged further networking.

On the second day of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to present their individual projects during parallel sessions. The presentations for the parallel sessions were grouped under the following themes: Diversity and Belonging: Implications for migrants access to social security; the role of attitudes and knowledge in accessing welfare; access to welfare in migration process; barriers and challenges; migration, welfare and social inclusion, welfare, transnationality and social citizenship. There was also a discussion on emerging themes, and suggestions on further collaborations and publications.

International Audience

About 35 participants attended from different academic backgrounds ranging from post docs, research fellows, PhD students and Professors. Attendees for this workshop came from all over Europe (Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands).

The workshop offered an exciting opportunity – some participants coming in contact with people working on similar topics for the first time. Attendees learned about the different projects, shared ideas and also engaged in discussions about sharing data. The event was also a great opportunity to engage in discussion on how to develop the enormous datasets derived from all the different projects. Notable in this workshop was participant’s interest to engage in discourse on ways to improve their own research projects learning from the others.

Overall participants agreed on the need for the more collaborative efforts to share knowledge on their research projects, synthesising research data, and learn from the different project methodologies. Participants suggested that the thematic workshop be done on regular basis and at the early stages of the project development as useful lessons learned could be implemented at the early stages.


First and foremost we want to thank all attendees of this inspiring workshop. We are grateful to all the discussants for the parallel sessions (Nando Sigona, Antje Lindenmeyer, Lisa Goodson, Laurence Lessard-Phillips) and for the expert discussant Prof Fiona Williams. Profs Marcel Lubbers, Simon Pemberton, and Hannah Bradby helped to identify themes from across the different presentations. We are grateful to Ann Bolstridge and the IRIS research volunteers (Boram Kim, Kyounghee Chong, Yohan Rubiyantoro, Woo Soek, Youngjoo Lee and Gemma Hennessy) who helped ensure the smooth organisation of the workshop.

Selection of Presented Papers

Kinga Papiez, TRANSWEL | University of Bath | K.Papiez (a)

Transnational Belonging and Social Citizenship of Polish Migrants in the UK – Theory vs. Practice

Kinga Papiez
Kinga Papiez

This paper presents findings of qualitative analysis based in-depth 55 interviews conducted in 2016, using grounded theory to explore the experiences of Polish migrants, who have migrated to the UK, and also those who returned to Poland. To identify core patterns in experiences of belonging and social citizenship with Polish migrants, the researcher identified analytical dimensions, which allowed to differentiate between types of belonging of Polish migrants in the UK. Polish migrants’ experiences of belonging were shaped by motivation of migration, which was closely related with migrants’ pivotal assumptions and narratives about their migration timeframe (temporary, permanent, unknown). Therefore temporality and motivation to migrate were mutually related. Temporality also featured in three other analytical dimensions, which differentiated migrants’ experiences of belonging: ethnic identification; emotional attachment; and membership and practices. These components shaped migrants` multidimensional experiences of transnational belonging and social citizenship, between three types of belonging among Polish migrants in the UK: presentism, settlement and malleability. In summary, the analysis shows that the sense of transnational belonging and social citizenship cannot be described in linear way. It is a complex and multidimensional process for Polish migrants, and it needs to be shown how the migrants negotiate their belonging by connecting motivations, experiences, and practices of migration with policy. It raises the question about a need to create a new conceptual understanding of transnational belonging and social citizenship to capture experiences described by Polish migrants in the UK.

“It was my first WSF workshop, so it was great to have opportunity to meet other researcher and could listen of other interesting projects. The same it was with new networking. It was interesting to exchange information with other researcher. It is still difficult for me to say if I could collaborate with someone. But for sure this workshop was first step for me to think about it.”

Simon Pemberton, UPWEB | Keele University | s.pemberton (a)

Place, Super-diversity and Welfare Bricolage

UPWEB Simon Pemberton
Simon Pemberton

Through research undertaken as part of the UPWEB project covering four different countries / cities and eight different neighbourhoods, my paper provided a number of new and important insights into the ways in which the differing features of “super-diverse”  places (places where populations are very diverse) shape the ways in which local residents seek to address their health concerns.

“Excellent. The ‘speed dating’ exercise was particularly helpful. i found out a great deal from other WSF projects through this activity. I spoke to 15 other colleagues in less than 1hr 30mins!

Christian Albrekt Larsen, MIFARE | Aalborg University | albrekt (a)

This Should Be how they Are. The Status-que-heuristic of Public Attitudes to Migrants’ Entitlement to Social Rights in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark

MIFARE Christian Albrekt Larsen
Christian Albrekt Larsen

Migrants’ entitlement to social rights have become a salient political issues in many European countries. The article analyses public attitudes in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark by means of original data that both measure how the public think the rules “are” and how they “should be”. The article finds that a majority of Germans, Dutch and Danes think the rules should be how they are for both EU- and none-EU-migrants. The article also finds a strong correlation between are and should be at the micro-level, which is explained by a status-quo-heuristic rooted in risk averseness and the complexity of entitlement criteria. The mico-level link between are and should be is stable across subgroups, even among voters of populist right wing parties, and remain significant after control for standard background variables.

“It was a nice workshop with rich opportunities to meet colleagues.”

Nora Regös,  TRANASWEL | University of Vienna | clara.holzinger (a)

Clara Holzinger, TRANSWEL | University of Vienna | nora.regoes (a)

Lost in Transnational Regulations? How Hungarian Migrants in Austria Experience Access to Social Rights

TRANSWEL Clara Holzinger
Clara Holzinger
Nora Regös

Based on qualitative research findings from the TRANSWEL project, the paper offers insight into social inequalities in the border region between Austria and Hungary: due to being categorized as ‘frontier workers’, mobile Hungarians’ risk (potential) exclusion from unemployment benefit in Austria. The aim of the paper is to point to existing tensions arising from the implementation of European social security regulations to concrete cases in a border region where transnational lifestyles prevail. In particular, the paper shows how the institutional interpretation of legal terms such as ‘habitual residence’, ‘centre of interest’ and ‘frontier worker’ may constitute a disadvantage for Hungarian migrants, prohibiting them to access social rights. Our interview partners’ creative coping strategies are revealing: As the paper demonstrates, Hungarian migrants develop creative and highly sophisticated strategies in order to overcome their disadvantaged positions forged by the interplay of multi-level regulations and national administrations. By doing so, Hungarian claimants do not passively accept the labelling as frontier workers but reinterpret it as a negotiation process and position themselves as an active part of it (i.e. participate in the decision upon their inclusion into the Austrian welfare system).

“We found it very useful to get an insight into other projects, where they are, what their theoretical and empirical focus is, and what difficulties they had during the research process. We really liked the session on thematic group discussion where we had the possibility to exchange ideas about current existing theoretical concept concerning transnational migration and its strengths and weaknesses.

However, we think that the presentations on specific findings within the projects (that took place on day 2) should have had more room for discussion. As there were many parallel sessions, the audience on the presentations was relatively small and thus less feedback was given generally.

The idea on the speed networking was great and very helpful to learn to summarize the main interest of the researcher within two minutes. Maybe one small suggestion: some notes during the networking (name, university, field of research interest) would probably allow to remember the information who said what and the possibility to contact the person later on for further discussion. Like always, networking during breaks and at the evening was a very nice opportunity to get in contact with researcher from WSF. It was an intensive workshop but the balance between sessions and breaks was rather equilibrated.

I had the impression that there are many common research interests. I could think of possibilities for example to employ, adapt, and develop the quantitative survey from the project upweb to the region between HU and AT to better understand the transnational health care strategies of EU migrants in receiving countries. Although we really enjoyed this workshop, we think that it would have been even more profitable for the projects if it had taken place at an earlier stage of the research process.”

Sarah Hamed, UPWEB | Uppsala University | sarah.hamed (a)

Perceived Discrimination in Healthcare in Sweden: Findings from the UPWEB Project
UPWEB Sarah Hamed
Sarah Hamed

The aim of this study is to explore perceived discrimination in healthcare in Sweden. The study draws upon interviews of healthcare users in two diverse neighbourhoods in Uppsala. Thirty five interviews with healthcare users were conducted and analysed as part of a European project (UPWEB) on access to healthcare in diverse neighbourhoods.

“The workshop was a good opportunity to know what other projects are doing. I liked the “speed dating” exercise. It was intense but very beneficial!”

Petra de Jong, MobileWelfare | Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute | jong (a)

Welfare and Migration Decisions in the Contemporary European Context: International Migration as Embedded in the Life Course
Petra de Jong

Over the past decades it has been suggested that, particularly in the intra-European migration context of free mobility and settlement, migrants might be attracted to generous welfare provisions. However, previous studies do not explain exactly how a macro-level factor like welfare may influence individual migration decisions. In our study we aimed to answer this question by introducing the life course approach to the model on international migration decision making. For this, we used qualitative interview data from 36 European citizens born in Poland, Spain and the UK and residing in the Netherlands. Our findings indicated three different ways welfare may influence migration decisions that so far received much less attention in the literature than the ‘welfare magnet’ effect. First, prior to migration, welfare arrangements in the origin country may shape or enable the move abroad by providing a (financial) safety net that protects against the insecurities in migration. Second, after migration, general satisfaction with the way the government of a destination country protects its residents may increase individuals’ intentions to stay. Finally, welfare dependency can have a retaining effect when individuals are uncertain that they can receive the arrangements they need somewhere else. In our data we observed the latter for the destination context, yet possibly such forces occur in the origin context as well. These three alternative influences appear more prevalent in our data than an attracting effect of welfare in the destination country prior to migration, and deserve further investigation in future research.

“Getting closer to the end of the WSF projects, it has been interesting to share experiences, findings and conclusions with other project teams during the workshop. A lot of lessons to take home!”

Anna Gkiouleka, HiNEWS | University of York | a.gkiouleka (a)

Asylum Policies in Greece and Immigrants Health: An Intersectionality Based Analysis

HiNEWS Anna Gkiouleka
Anna Gkiouleka

The arrival of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Greece since 2015 has been described in terms of a humanitarian crisis on European ground. According to EU directives, humanitarian protection is directly linked to the physical and psychological health of the affected populations via pathways relevant to healthcare but also relevant to social determinants of health both material and psychosocial. The particularity of the ‘refugee crisis’ in Greece is that the humanitarian situation has evolved on European ground and has involved populations who wish to settle on this ground. This coincidence renders the affected populations on the intersection of humanitarian protection and immigration control as regulated through national, European and international policies. Adopting an intersectional approach to the policy analysis, the paper discusses the meaning of health inequalities in the specific context; explores which categories and institutional effects are relevant for the emergence of health inequalities among the arriving population; and problematises the way that perceptions of health, asylum, and vulnerability are intertwined within policy in the context of power relations in Greece and in Europe for the (re)production of a health disadvantage for the arriving asylum seekers and refugees.

“The workshop was a good opportunity to meet with other project teams in a friendly atmosphere and to explore common interests and ideas for future projects.”

Jana Fingarova, TRANSWEL | Brandenburg University of Technology | Jana.Fingarova (a)

Mobile EU Citizens Inequality Experiences: Barriers in Accessing Social Security and the Informal Protection Strategies of Mobile Bulgarians

Jana Fingarova

Based on analysis of qualitative interviews in TRANSWEL project, for Germany-Bulgaria country pair, a typology of migrant agency in respect to access and portability in four fields of social security: health, child benefits, unemployment and retirement, is presented. The analyses identified multidimensional aspects in migrants’ experiences in regard to their transnational social protection which spread across institutional regulations and practices; organisations and social networks; as well as individual practices. In the some of the interviews, perceived humiliation and insecurity, as well as pride and shame, are facets of inequality experiences, whereas in others the awareness of their social security rights, the awareness of legitimacy of claims they have, and the respective organisation of access to knowledge are essential. There are no indications that welfare in general or larger amounts of cash benefits are central theme in the migrants’ mobility projects. Considering the multidimensionality of the experiences, it is difficult to define a clear cause-effect for pursuing (resp. non-pursuing) of social rights in the process of migration. But analyses show that in all of the interviews the awareness of their social rights strongly depends on the mobile individuals’ perceptions of their migration project (permanent vs temporary) to move to Germany, and is also strongly shaped by institutional practices that can lead to disadvantages for the mobile individuals and their families in terms of their transnational organisation of social protection in the context of EU mobility.

“I experienced the WSF Workshop in Birmingham as an extremely interesting event to discover and re-discover what other researchers in NORFACE are working on. I wish we had this workshop a year ago! Through exchanging our knowledge on the topics of social protection, I could reflect on my research and relate it to a broader scientific field. Presently, I am working on my PhD thesis right now and immediate collaborations were of lower priority to me, but for the future all shared information and new acquaintances, I am sure, are with great potential.”

Bozena Sojka, TRANSWEL | University of Bath |  b.i.sojka (a)

Logics that Underpin Politicisation of Rights and EU mobility

In principal EU citizenship combines rights and mobility in an exceptional way, as it guarantees the right of citizens of the Union and their family member to reside freely within the territory of the Member States. It also secures entitlement to equal treatment to nationals. In practice this amalgamation is problematic both legally and politically and provides space for controversial and highly politicised discourses on rights and mobility within a number of EU Member States. This paper takes ‘logics of critical explanation’ (Glynos and Howarth, 2007) approach to explore the everyday, ‘taken-for-granted’ politicisation of rights and EU mobility that are presented in narratives of interviewed British and Polish policy stakeholders. It identifies political, social and fantasmatic logics that underpin rationales of belonging via social security rights in a context of free movement. Finally, it explains how these rationales privilege some types of EU mobile citizens while disadvantaging others.