The article focuses on British politics and stereotypes about Bulgarian citizens in the period after 1989. The article is based on a review of official British documents concerning the migration of Bulgarians from 1990s onwards. Various data originating from tabloids from the period 2004–2015 that had an effect on Bulgarian migrants residing in the UK was also explored. The main part of the paper is based on a round of ethnographic field studies of Bulgarian immigrants multilocally conducted in Britain and in Bulgaria. It explores the influence of British immigration policy and media informations on Bulgarian movements and settlement in the UK. The special attention is put on Bulgarian feelings and perceptions of discrimination. The study seeks to answer questions about the effectiveness and appropriateness of British policies and the migrants’ future adaptation and loyalty towards the host country.
This article discusses findings from a qualitative study conducted for my MPhil dissertation. It draws on the views and experiences of Romanian citizens living in the UK, collected before the June 23rd UK referendum on ending EU membership. It addresses two aspects from my thesis, which are highly relevant to the topical Brexit debates: on the one hand, what kinds of discriminatory experiences Romanians faced in the receiving society, and, on the other hand, how Romanian migrants perceived the British. For the purpose of this short paper, the empirical data is illustrated in the form of two case studies, the stories of Avram and Medeea, which include dominant themes on both aspects. Overall, the paper presents an apparent contradictory discourse and reflects on its potential explanations. While condemning negative attitudes towards them in the UK, Romanians showed their own negative attitudes towards the British (and ‘others’ in general). They frequently embraced the very stereotypes about fellow Romanian migrants, which they vocally condemned in other instances. A class dimension to stereotypes emerges throughout the discussion. The paper is open-ended and the conclusion reflects on how the UK’s decision to leave the EU can add complexity to the presented findings.
Bulgarian migration to the UK has been consistently increasing since the country’s EU accession and removal of barriers to free movement and labour across the EU. The continued popularity of the UK as a migration destination despite the multiplicity of hurdles faced by Bulgarian immigrants poses a paradox that cannot be explained with the ‘push-pull’ and cost-benefit calculation models prevailing in migration research. In its attempts to provide a better understanding of people’s decisions to migrate and different migration patterns this article challenges existing scholarly explanations by analysing ethnographic material dedicated to the pre- and post-migratory experiences of Bulgarian working class migrants. By exploring the effects of the informal institutional restrictions faced by Bulgarian newcomers after January 2014 the article reveals a mechanism through which permanent settlement has been limited in favour of circular labour mobility. The benefits of such regulating mechanisms for the capitalist state have come at the expense of migrants’ longings for a ‘normal’ existence.
The main theoretical contribution of this paper is to show that the transitional processes from circadian to post-circadian capitalist era have reduced capabilities for sociability of migrant night shift workers. It analyses the three main contributing factors to the corrosion of solidarity amongst migrant denizens: (a) the expansion of the working day into the night; (b) the major alterations of time over time, and the nurturing ground for these changes, (c) global cities, as the nurturing ground for occupational polarization.