Trends, Patterns and Control
Edited by Heinz Fassmann, Max Haller and David Lane
Chapter 7: A Suspended Status: The Puzzle of Polish Workers in the West Midlands
Guglielmo Meardi INTRODUCTION 7.1 The enlargement of the EU in 2004–07 to the east set in motion a greater transnational mobility, which multiplied the economic and social interactions among people from different nationalities. This has had immediate policy implications at the EU level (for example the promotion of further mobility by the European Commission, debates on the ex-Bolkenstein directives, European Court of Justice rulings on labour disputes over ‘social dumping’) and at national levels (for example the ‘transitory periods’, the ‘Polish plumber’ media issue and its effect in the French referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty, the anti-Romanian campaigns in Italy). But it also has deeper social consequences, requiring the revision of defining categories. Many commentators have seen intra-EU migration as a source of potentially disruptive tensions, others as a welcome influx of mobility and flexibility in labour markets – yet the phenomenon itself is not yet fully understood or even defined. While a large amount of research has been undertaken on this topical issue (Anderson et al. 2006, Duszczyk and Wyśniewski 2007, Pollard et al. 2008), deeper debates on the conceptual and methodological implications for migration studies and for the understanding of the European labour market are still only beginning. This chapter will discuss how new approaches, linking migration and labour studies, are made necessary by the novelty of this migration wave. On the one side, migration studies still have not elaborated an adequate category for classifying this group of migrants and catching their specificity. The concept of...
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