Component 1

Multicultural Habitus of Migrants and their Peers


This component examines how and what kind of intercultural competences migrants acquire and how these transfer across their social networks back to their home country.

Cultural and ethnic diversity has emerged as the main challenge for Europe in the 21st century. Europe is by its nature diverse: it is a place where people from different ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, of different life trajectories and lifestyles, live together. Now, all European Union countries are destinations for new immigrants. In the ‘old immigration countries’, the overlapping of different waves of immigration diversifies the populations in terms of ethnicity, nationality, legal status, economic position, education, etc. The new immigration and transit migration countries in Eastern Europe are challenged by new and ‘exotic’ diasporas, such as Vietnamese, and the process of forming of new ethnic diversity and new ethnic consciousness. Immigration can lead to new patterns of inequality, spatial and social segregation, of racism and conflict. Yet encounters with unfamiliar people and their cultures can also reduce enmity and enforce cosmopolitanism and peaceful and creative mixing, and thus improve people’s quality of life.

Extensive research demonstrates that contact between people of different groups is an effective tool for reducing prejudice. Direct contact has such a positive effect even if people display attitudes of hostility or prejudice prior to meeting members of other groups. Importantly, there is also evidence that people having only indirect contact to members of other groups (having friends who have friends in outgroups) show weaker prejudice. We also know that these kinds of effects can transfer onto other groups: those having contact to members of one group tend to be more accepting of many other groups. What we do not know, however, is how attitudes towards outgroups transfer between people and spaces.

The Component 1 recognizes that people encounter unfamiliar cultures in bodily interactions. It looks specifically at places of enduring encounters and examines how diversity is re-imagined and experienced through contact with cultural others, and how different encounters influence attitudes towards diversity, potentially transforming those involved. The component explores the corporeal and virtual social networks of migrants stretching across nation-states and ask how these transport values and imaginaries of diversity, acquired when migrants encounter others. Working with transnationally connected migrants and their peers in Poland, the component will investigate if and how those 'back home' who have indirect contact with diversity change their atttitudes towards it.

The team working on this objective makes use of a three-wave qualitative longitudinal study in Great Britain, Germany and Poland.