Polish Graduates: Migration and Its Media Representations
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The Pedagogical University of Cracow
Publication date: 2015-06-30
Polish Sociological Review 2015;190(2):171–190
The aim of the paper is to present the results of research into the dominant media discourses on post-accession migration within the context of the economic and socio-cultural situation of Polish University graduates. The first part of the article—based on an analysis of statistical data and recent studies—relates to the historical context of the educational boom in the late 1990s that led to the ‘devaluation of the degree diploma’, an increase in unemployment and increased numbers of tertiary-level educated Poles leaving Poland post 2004. The second part relates to the media debate on young migrants understood as a significant sphere (Jeffrey Alexander) in the construction of ‘common knowledge’ on migration and the ‘trigger’ transferring particular issues of migration into the ‘civic sphere’. This part is based on an extensive content analysis of migration representations as seen in four weekly magazines between 2004 and 2012 and a narrative analysis of two TV series: ‘Londyńczycy’ and ‘Wyjechani’. The media debate includes such issues as: young migrants’ careers abroad, cultural capital accumulation waste, family break-ups, and the effects of migration at a local and national level. The analysis reveals the interplay between media representations/narratives and popular academic conceptualizations of the effect of migration on young graduates: the ‘crowding out hypothesis’ (Okólski) and double-marginalization (Iglicka) which are a part of the ‘brain waste versus brain gain’ discourse. The analysis reveals the main mechanisms of media representations: idealization (American Dream pattern of migrants’ careers), dramatization leading to ‘moral panics’ (Euro-orphans, family break-ups) and negotiation with the dominant conceptualizations in the ‘civic sphere’ (‘U-shape’ migrants’ careers).