The social distance of Poles to other minorities: a study of four cities in Germany and Britain

Magdalena Nowicka, Łukasz Krzyżowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This contribution investigates the social distance of immigrants from Poland in four Western European cities–London, Birmingham, Berlin and Munich–particularly Polish immigrants’ distance towards members of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities in their various social roles. Presenting unique data from the first wave of a longitudinal qualitative study, we first discuss the differential levels of social distance that Polish immigrants place between themselves and members of minority groups in each city. We find that respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics impact their social distance, but their education and occupation may have less of an effect than their place of origin in Poland or current place of residence and work. Moreover, these factors work differentially across the four cities. After analysing social distance with respect to three dimensions of difference–ethnicity, religion and sexuality–we find several different social-distancing mechanisms. Ultimately, we argue that social science needs to consider regional and local contexts in which social attitudes towards minorities are acquired and exercised. Similarly, we need to reflect on the group’s presumed homogeneity and on the unifying visions of the ‘host society’ as a site of migrants’ incorporation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-378
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


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