Will Shankley, UK Data Service Data Impact Fellow and Sociology PhD Student at The University of Manchester, shares the outcomes of his project investigating the impact of Brexit on Polish migrants.
The vote by the British people on the 23rd of June concerning Britain’s membership of the European Union resulted in a more towards separation. If like me, you’re still struggling to get to grips with what Brexit means and how to engage and digest with all the different debates, discussions and points of view, it makes sense to write this blog post about my recent impact work and how it is associated with Brexit. As is apparent in my research biography and previous blog post, my Ph.D. focuses on Polish post-accession people’s residential patterns and decision-making. It appeared, however, intuitive that given the referendum decision and wider interest in the outcome and the after affects of Brexit that I would discuss some of my more recent impact work relating to Brexit. This focuses on two recent conferences that I have attended where I have spoken about my research to different audiences and its association with Brexit.
The first conference was entitled the Radical Statistics Conference: Statistics of Brexit in Edinburgh on the 18th of February. The conference was focused on the different ways of using statistics to answer multiple questions on Brexit. My talk focused on presenting the internal migration patterns of Polish people in England and Wales as evidence of their residential patterns prior to Brexit. My talk extended to discuss some of the uncertainty many of my respondents felt regarding the Brexit outcome and how it might affect their future migration decision-making. The second conference was the British Sociological Association Conference 2017 held at the University of Manchester between April the 4th and the 6th. The conference was focused on multiple themes within the discipline of sociology. My paper focused on contributing to the discussion on ‘how race and ethnicity contributed to the residential decision-making of Polish people?’. The discourse around the role that race and ethnicity have played in migrant decision-making has largely focused on non-white racial groups and linked residential decisions to discrimination and racism in multiple domains. However, my work attempted to expose the changing nature of whiteness and what this meant for Polish people living in Britain.
I previously described that my initial impact idea was focused on interviewing Polish people to find out how last summers’ referendum vote had contributed to their future residential decision-making. My previous employment has been within the asylum and refugee sector and therefore elements of participation and researches tangible benefit to the study’s participants and the wider community were essential. Whilst from a research perspective conducting additional interviews with Polish EU nationals appeared to be the logical progression to my research on residential decision-making before Brexit, working closely with a number of gatekeepers within the local Polish community across Greater Manchester, illustrated the tentative and insecure nature that Brexit had impacted on the Polish population. Brexit had placed Polish migrants in a precarious position where their legal rights and position in the UK was fragile and uncertain and therefore it has become even more important to create a piece of impact work that was dually beneficial. Additionally, debates during the ‘Radical Statistics’ conference highlighted the lack of available data to address post Brexit questions and made salient small scale and local data collection. However I am currently working closely with a number of different voluntary organisations and charities in Greater Manchester to construct an impact event where I can collect data on the factors that contribute to Polish peoples residential decisions but also address some of the concerns attendees have regarding Brexit. More to follow in the forthcoming months!