Beyond Ethnic Networks - Sociability Patterns of Romanian Students and Workers in London
Sociology University of Bristol Oxford, UK
In migration research, assimilation and transnationalist theories have long developed in isolation. Recently, there have been attempts to bridge the two paradigms and study "transnationalism-cum-assimilation combinations" experienced by national groups (or subgroups) in both sending and receiving states (Morawska 2003). Whilst this may reinforce a binary focus on two national groups and contexts (immigrant and native, home and abroad), a useful approach to avoid this, it is argued here, would be to examine the social ties employed, created, or maintained by migrants, so as to assess the directionality, and impact, of their social networks not only across territory but also beyond one´s ethnic group.
Drawing on preliminary findings from a qualitative project comparing young Romanian students and workers in London, the paper will explore their sociability patterns in different, work and non-work, areas of life abroad. If a great share of migration literature looks at ethnic networks or often ends up ethnicising them, this paper aims to examine how ethnicity matters in building and maintaining different types of social relations by young Romanians in London. It will thus distinguish between three areas of social capital that seem to yield different outcomes not just in ethnic but also transethnic and class terms, i.e. professional, companionship, and personal support, which engage in complex ways British, foreign (including East European) and Romanian (including family) connections in Britain or abroad.