Transnational Polish Families in Norway

Social Capital, Integration, Institutions and Care

by Krystyna Slany (Volume editor) Magdalena Slusarczyk (Volume editor) Paula Pustulka (Volume editor) Eugene Guribye (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 316 Pages


This book provides timely insights into the lives of Polish migrants who have been settling in Norway with their partners and children, especially over the last decade. It brings together Polish and Norwegian scholars who shed light on the key areas of migrant family practices in the transnational space. The contributors critically assess social capital of those living mobile lives, discuss the role of institutions, as well as engage with the broad problematics of caring – both with regard to migrant children raised in Norway, and the elderly kin members left behind in Poland. Further, the authors tackle the question of the possibilities and constrains of integration, pointing to several areas of policy implications of transnationalism for both Poland and Norway.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of tables
  • List of figures
  • Krystyna Slany, Paula Pustułka, Magdalena Ślusarczyk & Eugene Guribye: Families between Poland and Norway: An Introduction
  • Part I: Mapping the Context of Researching Polish Migration to Norway
  • Krystyna Iglicka, Katarzyna Gmaj & Antoni Wierzejski: Contextualizing Polish Migration to Norway in the light of theory and statistical data
  • Eugene Guribye: Two waves, two contexts: On the changing conditions for social networking among Polish migrants in Norway
  • Jakub M. Godzimirski: Changing representations of Poles in Norway: what can this mean for the future of Polish diaspora?
  • Part II: Between work, home, and society: the betwixt and between lives of Polish migrants
  • Paula Pustułka, Ewa Krzaklewska & Lihong Huang: Childbearing behaviours of Polish migrants in Norway
  • Margunn Bjørnholt & Kari Stefansen: On the move: Transnational family practices among Polish parents working and caring for children in Norway
  • Magdalena Żadkowska, Natasza Kosakowska-Berezecka & Oleksandr Ryndyk: Two worlds of fatherhood – comparing the use of parental leave among Polish fathers in Poland and in Norway
  • Joanna Bielecka-Prus, Elżbieta Czapka & Zofia Kawczyńska-Butrym: The dilemmas of transnational care. The case of Polish immigrants in Norway
  • Eugene Guribye, Paula Pustułka, Magdalena Ślusarczyk & Barbara Zyzak: Left to their own devices? On the role of Polish migrant organisations in Norway
  • PART III: Childhood and migration: the youngest members of transnational families
  • Magdalena Ślusarczyk, Randi Wærdahl & Stella Strzemecka: Polish children and their parents adapting to a new school reality in Norway
  • Krystyna Slany & Stella Strzemecka: Children as kin-keepers of a transnational family. Inclusive understanding of a family in the eyes of children
  • Krystyna Slany & Justyna Struzik: What can we learn from the research project “Doing Family in A Transnational Context” (TRANSFAM)?
  • Notes on editors and contributors
  • Index of terms
  • Series index

List of tables

List of figures

Krystyna Slany, Paula Pustułka, Magdalena Ślusarczyk & Eugene Guribye

Families between Poland and Norway: An Introduction

Abstract: This introductory Chapter provides a rationale for studying Polish migrant families in the transnational spaces of Poland and Norway. It supplies a state-of-the-art survey of the existing literature and statistical data, distinguishes the main subthemes of the book, that is, care, institutions, and social capital, and deals with successes and challenges of integration. It brings together the perspectives of the sending and receiving countries in this migration flow. The structure of the volume and its contributions are also discussed.

The Emergence of Polish-Norwegian Migration Research through the Prism of Transnational Families

Over a relatively short period in the last decade, tremendous changes have taken place with respect to mutual bonds and daily, political and cross-cultural relationships between Poles and Norwegians. Before our very eyes, these two cultures and nations have moved from very little to relatively extensive contact in the realms of politics, education, diaspora, the labor market, as well as everyday life. The processes engendering Polish-Norwegian transnational spaces have been sparked by international mobility from Poland to Norway. As a consequence, a new era of Polish migration history is marked by the intense formation and expansion of migrant and transnational families. This new mobility impacts not only the Polish and Norwegian but also the worldwide increase of so-called “global families” (Beck, Beck-Gernsheim 2013).

The results presented in Transnational Polish Families in Norway contribute to the up-to-date knowledge about transnational family practices and to the construction of both theoretical and empirical explanatory frameworks which are applicable to this phenomenon. The emergent and established mobility processes warrant scholarly attention: both research and its findings should be situated in the broader field of migratory movements and integration processes in the host societies. Thanks to generous funding provided by the Norway Grants (offered under the auspices of the Polish-Norwegian Research Programme Fi ← 11 | 12 → nancial Mechanism,1 and operated by the National Center for Research and Development), many successful binational cooperative research projects could be completed.

This volume is one of the major outcomes of the Doing Family in a Transnational Context: Demographic choices, welfare adaptations, school integration and the everyday life of Polish families living in Polish-Norwegian transnationality (Transfam) project. The aims of this project were the following: outlining the demographic and sociological inflow from Poland to Norway, taking into account the transnational and integration strategies employed by migrants and their families in the labour market and the family; examining the waves of inflow to Norway, referring to social migration capital, migration networks, Polish diaspora organisations, level of organisation and activism of Poles in Norway (e.g. local clubs, societies, support groups, religious communities etc.); analysing the way transnational families function, practices of and changes in family roles (motherhood, fatherhood), reproduction behaviours and family objectives, work-life balance, links to Norwegian institutions (pre-school, school, labour market) and the wider social community. As the focus was clearly on family, further attention was given to identifying the main strategies of maintaining transnational family ties and supranational relations; providing information about children in migration families, taking into account their own experiences and feelings. We also sought to learn about how children fare in educational institutions and their peer community.

On the other side of the spectrum, we the tackled the sending country by gauging problems with integration that affect migrants (both adults and children) after returning to Poland. This was accomplished on the basis of workshops carried out with parents and social workers. Recommendations, in particular in reference to the local and educational challenges brought by migration and remigration were developed and followed with a pilot intercultural education programme for Polish schools accepting children returning from living abroad. This signifies that research findings fed into informing public policies in such fields as migration, family, integration, and equality. The Transfam findings were (and still are) disseminated among key academic and institutional audiences across the two countries.

We applied an integrated methodological approach, using different information types and sources, as well as multiple analytical and data collection tools. ← 12 | 13 → The premises necessary for shaping the specifics of our methodology are: (1) migration and social integration have to be regarded as embedded in and interrelated with biographical processes; (2) migration, migratory decisions or settlement choices, lives of migrants families and their social integration do not exist in isolation, so a systematic evaluation needs to consider the social and other mechanisms and structures that govern behavior in these fields; (3) children are treated as being reflexive individuals and having agency – a child-centred approach. The study is guided by the overarching theme of an exploration of the processes of “doing families” in the context of migration and integration, within both a receiving society (Norway) and a country of origin (Poland). While a transnational context was chosen as the primary analytical framework, we broaden and supplement this theory with input from family studies and conceptualisations of social capital. Moreover, we also look at migration capital, which is a particular type of resources useful for acquiring aims linked to migration. It is a capacity to utilize the resources of others when it comes to enabling migration. In other words, migrants can build upon social, cultural and economic capitals of people they are connected to (Górny, Stola 2001). As this means a complex set of topics, a plethora of research methods were used across the sub-sections of the project, making it a comprehensive mixed-methods study. We applied numerous information types and sources, as well as multiple analytical and data collection tools and we admitted some assumptions: A transnational context is treated as a primary analytical framework, broadened and supplemented with input from family studies, sociology of childhood and conceptualisations of social capital; a mixed-methods study, it means qualitative (biographic and semi-structured interviews and observation) and quantitative (survey on-line) research are the most useful in such investigation. Polish migrant parents as well as their children were invited to take part in the research (the research on children was a novelty in our project). The TRANSFAM project therefore conducted a large amount of studies using various research methods, on both the Polish and the Norwegian sides.2

For three years, researchers from two Polish and two Norwegian institutions collaborated on a series of studies dedicated to transnational families. Joint data analyses fuelled three chapters of this book (Ślusarczyk et al.; Guribye et al.; ← 13 | 14 → Pustułka et al.); ultimately (with the addition of Guribye as well as of Slany and Strzemecka), five contributions to this volume present the Transfam findings. In compiling this work, an invitation was also extended to other researchers involved in projects financed by the same funds and dealing with similar themes regarding Poles and Polish families in Norway. These inquiries tackle the discourses and challenges of organising care in the Polish-Norwegian transnational space as well as the family practices of Poles settled in Norway. Our volume thus extends beyond the Transfam project and presents findings from the Effect,3 Polfamigra,4 PAR Migration Navigator,5 and Goodgov6 projects. In consequence, we are able to depict the Polish-Norwegian transnational research landscape comprehensively. By way of the contents found herein, we develop arguments regarding the significance of studying Poles in Norway.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (July)
Transnationalism Family practices European migration Scandinavia Central and Eastern Europe Ethnicity
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 316 pp., 20 b/w ill., 24 b/w tables.

Biographical notes

Krystyna Slany (Volume editor) Magdalena Slusarczyk (Volume editor) Paula Pustulka (Volume editor) Eugene Guribye (Volume editor)

Krystyna Slany is a sociologist and Chair of the Department for Population Studies at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University (JU), Poland. Magdalena Ślusarczyk is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University (JU), Poland. Paula Pustułka is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, Poland. Eugene Guribye is an anthropologist and Department Head at Agder Research in Kristiansand, Norway.


Title: Transnational Polish Families in Norway