Integration Patterns in Urban Contexts: the Case of Polish Immigration to Brussels
Geography Department at VUB (Brussels)
Last modified: May 16, 2007
Presentation date: 06/11/2007 4:30 PM in ISCTE-II B201
According to the media, the political world and even many academics, a whole group of migrants in a given country can be divided by nationality or by migrant-statute. That’s why people talk about ‘the’ Moroccans or ‘the’ Polish, or why they only make a difference between legal and illegal immigrants.
These two divisions are obviously far too general to formulate some conclusions about integration mechanisms at work. First we need to define alternatives for these ethnical and statutory characteristics. In our research on the Polish community in Brussels we considered both the exceptional history of Polish migration to Belgium and the socio-cultural organization of daily life in a foreign city. We found three main groups of which one can be further subdivided into three smaller parts.
For each of these five groups we describe the structural elements of immigration. We consider those as the basic tools for (especially in-group) community-building, hence offering possibilities for an integration policy adapted to the individual migrant’s daily activities. The most important elements are social capital, the role and motives of the Catholic Church and other official Polish associations, residential spacing and ethnic clustering.
We end with some conclusions about the power of network chains, with both its positive and negative aspects for integration. Hence, we formulate propositions for an emancipating and participatory integration policy, taking into account the inevitable variety within one ethnic community.