Labour Migration 2.0 – Open Bridge or Locked in the Network? The Polish Case

Labour Migration 2.0 – Open Bridge or Locked in the Network? The Polish Case
Author: Barwinska-Małajowicz, Anna
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 14, Number 2 / September 2015


The first part of the study presents – as an introduction to the subject – a synthetic view of the most significant theoretical concepts explaining the foreign labour migration phenomenon. An overview of the history of Polish emigration is provided after that. Then, upon this historical background, a division of migration capital into bridging and bonding is followed by by a suggestion of indicators for assessment of both types of capital. The next part includes an analysis of selected results of empirical studies within ‘possession’ of bridging and/or bonding migration capital by contemporary Polish migrants. The final part presents an analysis of the results of own study within the subject. At last, the study ends with a synthetic summary of conducted considerations with an outline of research questions which may lead into further investigation into the problem.


The incredible complexity of migration phenomena becomes the interest of different scientific disciplines (economics, social studies, psychology, history, geography, demography, and law or political sciences) which analyse various aspects of internal and external migration; moreover, the conducted studies are often interdisciplinary.

The main focus of the present study is the analysis of the overseas migration phenomenon within the context of migration social capital, whereas the main objective of considerations is an attempt to determine bridging and bonding migration capital and to develop an indicator for their assessment as well as to determine the level of both types of migration capital, possessed by the Polish migrants at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The achievement of the objective outlined in such manner was possible with the following assumed study hypotheses, which were verified in the content of the study.

Hypothesis 1

In the face of an absent possibility to construct a clear and straightforward indicator for bridging and bonding capital assessment we can determine the probability measure of the occurrence of both types of capital.

Hypothesis 2

Contemporary Polish migrants possess a higher level of bonding migration capital than bridging capital, which is associated with their affinity to family type migration networks.

The first part of the study presents – as an introduction to the subject – a brief overview of the history of the Polish labor migration and a synthetic view of the most significant theoretical concepts explaining the foreign labour migration phenomenon. Then, a division of migration capital into bridging and bonding is followed by a suggestion of indicators for assessment of both types of capital. The next part includes the analysis of selected results of empirical studies within ‘possession’ of bridging and/or bonding migration capital by contemporary Polish migrants. The final part presents an analysis of the results of own study within the subject. At last, the study ends with a synthetic summary of conducted considerations with an outline of research questions which may lead into further investigation into the problem.


The history of Polish migration can be divided into several periods. Over the centuries, Poland was essentially the area of the predominant immigration and settlement. Not until the end of the eighteenth century, the emigration from the Polish territory had gradually begun to gain on meaning. The fundamental date for the Polish emigration process was 1830. After the fall of the November Uprising, more than 10,000 people were forced to leave their country, to escape from repression and tsarist oppression. Since that time, the history of the Great Emigration – one of the largest emigration movements in the Europe of those days, in which many of well-known persons like, among others, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, and Frédéric Chopin took part, began. That emigration was a political one.

However, starting from the 70s of the nineteenth century and till the outbreak of World War II, the Polish mass abroad movements began to have more economic rather than political reasons, which became a massive phenomenon between the 1890s and 1914 (Stola 2010). The most popular directions chosen by the Polish emigrants were the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and European countries. It is estimated that from 1880 to 1918, about 3 million Poles left Poland and during the interwar period – over a million (Muzeum emigracji n.d.).

Another huge wave of emigration took place after World War II. Outside the country, there were about 2.5 million Poles (mostly in Germany, Western and Southern Europe). Poles also wandered off to the Middle East, Africa and both Americas (Habielski 2006). Many of them would never return to Poland. The migration movements after the Second World War were mostly caused by the shifting of the Polish borders, which led to massive population displacements and migrations of the Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Polish populations. Furthermore, at that time, many Jews of Polish origin started to return to Poland and then, the majority of them departed to Palestine and the USA. With the beginning of socialism in Poland and related control of border traffic by the ruling party, the possibility of free and easy departures from Poland was strongly limited. The first half of the 1950s reported the lowest level of international mobility for hundreds of years (in relation to the population).

It was not until the 1960s that the Polish people got an opportunity of legal permanent resident departures (the main directions were: East Germany, the USA, Israel, Canada, and Australia). It was also the time of temporary migration; however, the main destinations for the majority of people were the socialist countries. The Polish emigration reached the large scale at the beginning of the 1980s, which was connected with the imposition of martial law (the number of then emigrants from Poland was estimated at about 250,000 people). It was the so-called Wave of Solidarity Emigration, which was characterized by the fact that even before the imposition of martial law, there was a lot of illegal escapes from Poland.

In summary, between 1949 and 1989 about 2.2 million people left Poland, but the highest level of departures was reported to take place in 1989, which was estimated to reach the number of 19.3 million departures in passport traffic, which gave 500 departures for 1000 Polish citizens (Stola 2010). After the collapse of socialism, the decision to emigrate often became a kind of remedy during a difficult period of economic transformation, when a huge role was played by push factors such as unemployment or an opportunity to earn higher salary abroad (mostly at some seasonal jobs).1 Moreover, there emerged companies that specialized in emigrant movement service and made the foreign departures easier than in previous years. By the time of the Poland's accession to the European Union, there were over 500,000 Poles working in the 15 member-countries of the EU.

After Poland's accession into the European Union, not only the number of Polish people travelling to the EU countries increased, but also the directions of Polish emigration changed. It was connected with an access to national labor markets opened by the individual EU member-countries. From 1st May 2004, the Poles were allowed to work legally in three of the fifteen EU countries (Ireland, Sweden, and Great Britain which opened their labor markets already on the date of accession) without an obligation of getting a special permit (Kaszczak 2006). The other twelve EU countries maintained a system of work permits (some in conjunction with quotas). Thus, among the countries that attract emigrants, Great Britain took the first place. The United States of America, which before 2004 had been the second destination country for the Polish work emigrants, after 2004 became the fifth. In turn, they were overtaken by Germany, Ireland,and Italy (Barwińska-Małajowicz 2011). The emigration of Poles in the period between 2004 and 2013 had a huge extent. According to data from GUS (Informacja o rozmiarach2010), within the first three years after accession, the number of Poles leaving the country for a temporary stay abroad increased rapidly, reaching the highest level in 2007 (about 2.3 million people). In the following two years, this number decreased, while the phenomenon of returns intensified. In 2009, temporary Poles emigration was estimated at approximately 1.9 million people (a year earlier this number exceeded 2.2 million), the majority of them preferred the EU countries. In 2010, the emigration rate also decreased, so that from the following year it started to grow again but in a moderate way. It is estimated that by the end of 2012, there were 2,130,000 Polish people temporarily leaving abroad which was approximately 70,000 more than in the previous year.

Although, migration in the first period after World War II was political, the contemporary emigration of Poles is determined by the economic reasons, among which the most important are the following:

· the high unemployment rate in Poland (frequently related to mismatch of the Polish education system and subjects of studies to the needs of the labor market);

· significant differences between salary levels in Poland and in Western Europe countries;

· the demographic situation (at the beginning of the twenty-first century the labor market was affected by the population boom of the 1980s).

The number of emigrants is dominated by young people (in the age from 14 to 34), who combine their abroad departure with potential work. The most important destinations of temporary Polish emigration are still: in Europe – Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Holland, and Italy, outside Europe – the United States of America. It is estimated that over 77 per cent of temporary emigrants stay abroad for at least one year. The aversion to returns is getting stronger, common departures of whole families are becoming more popular due to relationships between emigrants and citizens of countries where they work. A new distinctive feature is evident in the subject of the Polish emigration to the USA (where live the most of Polish emigrants, i.e. the 10-millionth part of Polish diaspora), because it more often associates with conscious and holding ethnic affiliation. The processes of globalization and integration, related to international capital flows, foreign investments and companies merges produce a significant influence on the character and directions of contemporary labor migration.


The subject literature offers abundant theories and concepts undertaking the subject of overseas labour migration problem. Migration theories may be classified according to different criteria. One of the possible divisions undertaken for the needs of this study results from various scales of consideration of this phenomenon (micro-, medium- and macrostructural level). With such an approach we get an opportunity to grasp the interdisciplinary character of the subject discussed, because such a division is a form of a link between various scientific theories such as economics, sociology and geography.

The phenomenon of migration on a micro scale (analysed by researchers such as Sjaastad [1962], De Jong and Fawcett [1981], Stark [1984, 1991]), is considered with respect to individuals' behaviour and attitudes and upon this basis the general community conclusions are drawn.2 Such considerations, based on psychological motivation theories, focus on an individual value system as well as individual desires and expectations. The sole fact of overseas labour migration is preceded by a calculation of potential emigration costs and benefits (Mester 2000). In this perspective, micro migration is analysed as an ‘allocation method and a type of investment increasing human resources productivity’ (Markowski 2008: 63), whereas fundamental focus lies in the relation between the migration phenomenon and an individual's personal traits and on an individual's assessment of their own residence within the context of potential and achievable migration goals (Woods 1982).

Microstructural theories serve a complementary function in relation to the concept at the macro level, which is at the origin of chronologically oldest theoretical framework explaining the migration phenomenon. The migration phenomenon on a macro scale was the subject of analysis for many theorist of the subject, just to mention Ravenstein's classic ‘laws of migration’ (1885), the theory of migration – a pioneer within economics studies – developed by Hicks (1932), Heckscher, Ohlin, Samuelson who formed a Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson theorem, Lee's model called push-pull theory (1966). The theoretical reflexion at this level involves the relations between a host country and the country of origin; it focuses on searching fora regularity leading migrations on the basis of comparison of the flow size between the studied, mutually varied, territorial units (countries). The main reason behind the overseas migration is assumed to be the different economic development of countries, and the analysis focuses on the significance of the variety of structural factors in the countries under study (such as labour supply and demand, occupational classification in the labour market, pay level and structure, and unemployment level etc.), while migrations are perceived as streams of population groups not as individual occurrences. Macro concepts assume that migrants react to social and economic differences in space and the database are the statistics filed at a national level or selected administrative units.

Considerations in a traditional macro and micro perspective do not fully explain the international migration mechanisms. Only medium-level merge of both aspects with a scientific thought about social dimension of migration fills the interpretation gap within a holistic approach to the studied phenomenon and thus becomes the grounds for ‘the creation of a holistic theoretical approach to this phenomenon’ (Górny and Kaczmarczyk 2003: 61). The social character of labour force flow is recognised by some concepts on the micro scale (such as the NELM theory, which recognises the complexity of human migration motivations; the fact that individuals usually act in particular arrangements), yet only a medium aspect analysing social networks of migration correlations and social migration capital, allows grasping a wider view of conditions and the course of migration processes (Stobbe 2004).

Therefore, further in this study, the focus lies on the analysis of migration social capital in two dimensions: bridging and bonding.


Migration networks3 have common good ‘coded in’, which is defined as social migration capital, that is social capital limited to social networks formed among migrants (former and current) and potential migrants.

Robert D. Putnam's assumption that social capital indicates a set of norms, networks of mutual trust, loyalty, parallel correlation networks in a particular social group with the basis of valuable social networks (Putnam 2000; Herbst 2007), he distinguished two simultaneous dimensions of social capital: bridging and bonding (Putnam 2000). When referring Putnam's findings to the migration phenomenon we may establish two forms of social migration capital:

· bonding migration capital referring to the capital ‘coded’ in informal networks, especially those based on family ties (Fig. 1);

· bridging migration capital, which may be compared to the capital ‘coded’ in formal migration networks (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1. Graphic illustration of bonding migration capital

Source: author's study.

Fig. 2. Graphic illustration of bridging migration capital

Source: author's study.

Social capital analysis may not be performed analogically to the analysis of material forms of capital (such as financial capital) because detailed and unified indicators for its control and assessment have not been developed yet. The subject literature offers a number of attempts at social capital assessment where three research approaches are distinct:

1. Quantitative research;

2. Qualitative research;

3. Comparative research (How is Social Capital n.d.).

In a situation when social capital measurement is not simple and research works within the occurrence of capital types are exceptionally difficult and sometimes nearly impossible (Sierocińska 2011), a precise measurement of bridging and bonding migration capital seems to be unfeasible at all. Nevertheless, further in this study I attempt to suggest a method of assessment of both capital types, with two initial assumptions:

1. Hence, bridging migration capital occurs in relations established between members of separate social groups and it features a display of trust towards ‘strangers’ and accordingly it occurs in migration networks with weaker ties, therefore at the risk of excessive simplification, for the purpose of this study, we could make an assumption that bridging capital occurs in all networks based on ties other than blood relations, which are ties outside families.

2. Whereas, bonding migration capital concerns relations featuring a high level of mutual trust based on strong ties between people with similarities with respect to some important feature (gender, age, ethnic background, and kinship) (Putnam 2004), relations rooted in social structures of the lowest level, starting at the family level (Zarycki 2008), therefore we can assume – also with a dose of simplification – that it concerns mainly kinship network relationships. On the basis of Francis Fukuyama theory (1997) confronted with available empirical study results, I concluded that in the Polish society it is the relations based on kinship ties that feature a high (if not the highest) level of trust ‘leading to one family members finding it easier to undertake cooperation when a need to make sacrifices and give up immediate benefits arises’ (Grzymała-Kazłowska 2001: 52). Therefore, I acknowledged that the most significant among the above mentioned similarity features which would be conditional to the occurrence of the highest trust level in a network is a close kinship, with an assumption that the closer the kinship the stronger the trust.

Consequently, depending on the type of network of a migrant's functioning we may recognize various levels of both types of migration capital. The introduction of such general network division (into family and outside family) is a serious simplification of reality and may lead to misinterpretation, yet it has been introduced to enable an entry into a higher level of completeness of analysis and assessment during further research activity.

From the social capital indicator constructed by Espinosa and Massey (1999) through to the assessment concept suggested by Górny and Stola (2001), on the basis of the currently present suggestions for assessment of bridging and bonding capital (including the Jean-Marc Callois project) (Sierocińska 2011) I undertook an attempt to create simple indicators for the assessment of bridging and bonding migration capital where suggested indicators display rather a feasibility or possibility of achievement of help from migrants functioning within a particular network and are related to migration capital created by the Polish emigrant. I assumed in my quantification – after D. Stola and A. Górny – the simplest measurements, in accordance with and arbitrary assumption that the power of relationships between Polish migrants (in the understanding of a rather strong tie than a weak tie) is directly proportional to the degree of kinship, which seems to be confirmed by the results of numerous empirical studies conducted among the Polish emigrants. Multiple migration narrations have a common denominator which is (rather surprisingly) a strong family attachment on the part of Poles, hence migration streams are significantly founded on family ties called kinship networks, which also was the case with Mexican migration depicted by Massey.

On the grounds of previously made assumptions determining network forms where both types of migration capital occur and calling upon an indicator built by Górny and Stola (Górny and Stola 2001: 170), I attempted to create a bridging migration capital indicator, while considering a possibility of applying a slightly modified form of social capital designed by Górny and Stola as an indicator for the assessment of bonding migration capital only. Continuing with the main idea of an indicator constructed by Górny and Stola I recommend the following form of bonding migration capital:

WMKW = a + 0.5b + 0.2c + 0.1d


WMKW – bonding migration capital indicator;

a – number of close relatives (parents, children) with migration experience or living overseas (1.0);

b – number of close relatives (siblings) with migration experience or living overseas (0.5);

c – number of distant relatives (uncles/aunts, parents-in-law/sons-in-law/daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law/sisters-in-law, nephews/nieces) with migration experience or living overseas (0.2);

d – number of other relatives and those akin with migration experiences (0.1).

Close relatives (parents, children) have the highest value (1.0) ascribed, while distant relatives ten times lower value (0.1).


WMKP = w + 0.5x + 0.2y + 0.1z


WMKP – bridging migration capital indicator;

w – number of friends with migration experience of living overseas (1.0);

x – number of private acquaintances with migration experience or living overseas (0.5);

y – number of professional acquaintances with migration experience or living overseas (0.2);

z – number of associations, clubs, organisations (such as ethnic, religious) with headquarters overseas, of which the migrant is a member (0.1).

Friends have the highest value (1.0) ascribed, while various associations and organisations possess ten times lower value (0.1).

Due to a high complexity of the discussed problem establishing a level of bridging and/or bonding migration capital held by Polish migrants is a very intricate issue. The results of a study by M. Mioduszewska indicate an increase of the significance of kinship migration networks with respect to the general Polish migration (Mioduszewska 2008). Consequently, on the grounds of the above mentioned relation between the occurrence of a particular capital type and migrants' affiliation with a particular type of network, we may advance a thesis that the observed increase of value of kinship migration networks among Polish migrants should also translate into an increase in the level of bonding migration capital. On the other hand, the conclusions from other studies (Grabowska-Lusińska and Okólski 2008) attest to a decreasing role of social networks (including kinship) after Poland had joined the European Union, which finds justification in an introduction of a free flow of people within the EU and the accompanying demand on labour markets of the recipient countries (Kaczmarczyk and Okólski 2008). However, it takes place mainly in relation to new countries of destination such as Great Britain, whereas with respect to old countries of emigration, traditional kinship networks still perform a very important role (Grabowska-Lusińska and Okólski 2009).

Accordingly, conditioning bridging capital level with an affiliation to a network outside family, and bonding capital level with kinship network functioning, there is no straightforward manner confirming a hypothesis that the contemporary Polish migrants have a higher level of bonding migration capital than bridging capital because – with respect to the general contemporary Polish migration – there is no straightforward manner confirming a hypothesis that kinship networks are more valuable than those based on relations other than kinship.

Moreover, as the results of available qualitative studies (such as Fomina 2009; Grabowska-Lusińska and Okólski 2009) show, the dominance of one type of capital over another is conditional not only on the kind of network affiliations but also on a number of other features constituting demographic and social profile of a migrant (this consists of numerous variables, just to mention age, education level, professional qualifications which are useful on labour market of the recipient country, knowledge of languages, gender, family status, attitude to life and professional attitude as well as personality traits of migrants) and also social environment features, preferences and expectations of a migrant or the type of migration (Grabowska-Lusińska and Okólski 2009). The results of research conducted among the Polish community in Great Britain show that the capital of the ‘respondents, who are educated Poles speaking English, is strong when it comes to bridging capital but a much weaker when it comes to bonding capital’ (Fomina 2009: 1). In the opinion of the author of the study the predominance of bridging over bonding capital is, in this instance, related to some of the mentioned features constituting a respondent's profile, that is a high education level and command of the English language as well as the attitudes the respondents represent and even their personal traits. Fomina further states that the dominance of bridging capital held by the contemporary Polish migrants in Great Britain is the result of coexistence and mutual influence of ‘several factors, including self-confidence and a positive self-image of studied Poles; distancing from “other”, negatively perceived Poles; a rather negative attitude towards “new migrants” on the part of “the old Polish community” (...) and a sense of acceptance on the part of the English’ (Fomina 2009: 1). An increasing significance of bridging capital during the post-accession period was noticed by I. Grabowska-Lusińska and M. Okólski:

Post-accession migrations, particularly those heading towards the British Isles, display, more than prior to the accession, the implementation of individualistic and quasi-individualistic strategies, where the social capital outside families (close and distant acquaintances) is increasingly mobilised and used as a bounce-off to perform individualised activities (Grabowska-Lusińska and Okólski 2009: 183).

An increasing tendency to choose individualistic strategies by Polish migrants has been emphasised in research conclusions by A. Giza-Poleszczuk, M. Marody, and A. Rychard (2000). Also upon the results of a study conducted by the order of Lower Silesia Province Employment Agency in Wałbrzych4 (Migracja powrotna2010) we may assume a supremacy of bridging over bonding capital because a majority of respondents believed that ‘emigration gave them an opportunity to make interesting acquaintances (with foreigners or Poles who had emigrated), to gain connections (...) As many as 79 per cent of respondents declared that they had (at least a few) friends or close acquaintances among the inhabitants of a host country. The percentage of people indicating the fact of making interesting acquaintances during their emigration is significantly higher among young people under the age of 30’ (Ibid.: 181). Quantitative data is partially supported by the opinions of returning Lower Silesia migrants: ‘I had many acquaintances overseas. Rather not friends. Definitely acquaintances. Among the Irish and Slovaks and Hungarians and Czechs and Latvians. All nations, really’ (Migracja powrotna… 2010: 184), or: ‘I got on really well with them [citizens of the host country] (...) They would listen, they were able to spend their time so I could practice my English’ (Ibid.: 187). Although there exist other opinions emphasising the higher significance of bonding capital for some Polish migrants such as: ‘I usually spent my free time only with those I had known [friends from Poland]’ (Ibid.: 183) and it is the effect – as mentioned above – of a variety of features constituting a migrant's profile and the aim and type of migration as well as of the attitude of the society of the recipient country.

They above quoted study results evoke other than a migration network type conditions affecting the level of bridging and bonding migration capital, yet starting with the assessment of both types of capital at a simplified level, that is depending on the kind of network ties we may, in the course of further study and analysis, undertake another attempt at developing a better assessment tool, including other factors determining its level.


Despite numerous available empirical studies and papers in the area of economic migration abroad of Poles, there can be seen a lacuna in current research on the measurement and generation of migration capital (bridging and bonding capital) by Polish migrants. Current research shows, for instance, that returning Polish migrants use in their business activities in Poland their migration capital both in the financial as well as non-financial form, though with a decisive predominance of the former. However, due to the high dynamics of migration processes and difficult to capture phenomena accompanying the formation of migration capital (especially in the aspect of non-formal contacts), the presented results of my research are a vital contribution to knowledge in the subject matter raised here.

Connecting the level of migration bridging or bonding migration capital with an affiliation to a particular migration type network justifies a presentation of selected results of own study in relation to the already quoted results of the study by M. Mioduszewska5 (2008), who assumed that one of the factors increasing migration probability is the number of household dependants remaining overseas.

The survey was of a quantitative character and was conducted among students of the last semesters and graduates of Polish and German state higher education institutions located in Podkarpacie and the biggest city of the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region (at the same time a partner city of Rzeszow): Bielefeld. One of the research objectives was to determine the character of migration relations and the type of network to which the survey participants belonged, as well as to compare the types of migration relations characteristic for respondents in Rzeszow and Bielefeld. Additionally, there was conducted an analysis of interrelations between the respondents' being part of a family migration network and selected characteristics on the basis of which the respondents' demographic and social profiles were created. The number of respondents included in the research in Rzeszow was 402 persons, similarly to the number of the survey sample in Bielefeld (439 respondents). The respondents' age basically ranged from 24 to 26/27 years. The research was conducted in 2010. The survey sample was selected using a random layered method. Before the proper research, a pilot research was conducted, which helped to formulate the final version of the survey used. The research was conducted using a poll method based on an anonymous questionnaire. As the research tool was used a questionnaire which had been prepared on the basis of literature on the subject matter. The questions were of the closed-end, semi-open-ended and open-ended types. In the questionnaire there were placed, for example, tabular and yes-no questions as well as object questions, and for diagnosing the respondents' belonging to a family migration network yes-no questions were used.

Assuming that a study respondent had at least one relative remaining overseas as a labour emigrant, it translates to their membership in a kinship migration network (it is accessible to the respondent). Bielefeld university graduates were divided almost into halves of people potentially belonging to migration network base on kinship ties (51 per cent) and people without labour emigrants related to them (49 per cent), whereas over 2/3 of respondents in Rzeszów confirmed their affiliation to a kinship network (Chart 1).

Chart 1. Does anybody form your family remain (or remained) overseas as a labour emigrant?

Source: the author's own study: Rzeszów/Bielefeld.

The achieved results may suggest that potential young emigrants from Rzeszów, who have a higher education level should hold a relatively high level of bonding capital due to their nearly in 70 per cent affiliation to a kinship migration network. Confirmation of such suggestion, however, requires further in-depth study. Whereas the distribution of answers of Bielefeld respondents does not suggest any domination of either type of migration capital, if we condition it on their affiliation with kinship migration network. The distribution of answers from Bielefeld may be slightly surprising, considering that the German society features a relatively high ethnic and cultural variety (about 18 per cent of the entire society has a migrant background), we may therefore presume that migration networks (including kinship networks) should be well developed in the region under study. The achieved results were certainly influenced by social and demographic profile of the studied persons because in a group of over 400 respondents (439), nearly 300 people declared German nationality of their parents (parents' place of birth in Germany) and over 300 respondents declared their own nationality to be also German (declaring their place of birth in Germany).

Towards possible future study within the development of indicators for assessment of bonding migration capital, a relation between respondents' affiliation to a kinship migration network and respondents' and their parents' nationality (as one of the features constituting the basis for the development of respondents' demographic and social profile) were studied. Distribution free Pearson's χ2 test (chi-squared) for features independence was applied in the analysis; Pearson's test allowed verification of hypotheses on statistical dependence of studied features. The carried out analysis showed the dependence of the studied features in a group of respondents in Bielefeld, in relation to father's nationality only. Decision to reject the H0 hypothesis (stating that features are independent) was undertaken on the grounds of probability level p, which in the case of a study for dependence between potential functioning of respondents within kinship migration network and father's nationality was p = 0.04 (computed value of chi-squared test was 9.866321). Consequently, with an error probability less than 0.05 the null hypothesis could be rejected with the assumption that the variables are dependent (Table 1).

Table 1

Statistical results for the analysis of the variables relation




Chi-square (Pearson's)




Contingency Ratio


Cramér's V


Source: STATISTICA was used for calculation.

The achieved results constitute only a marginal contribution within the studies on networks and the migration capital of potential migrants from two neighbouring countries; nevertheless they may be a starting point for further study.


The form of migration capital, similarly to social capital on the whole, does not result from its physical properties (Przygodzki 2004), because migration capital and its bridging and bonding forms are abstract dimension categories therefore an in-depth analysis of the overseas migration phenomenon within the context of a study of the assessment of migrants' bridging and bonding capital is not a simple task, not to mention precise assessment. On the basis of the above considerations we could form two conclusions relating to the hypotheses stated in the Introduction:

· Considering that migration social capital analysis many not be carried out analogically to the analysis of material forms of capital, it is impossible to develop a clear, precise and standardised indicator for the assessment of migration capital divided into bonding and bridging capital, while the assessment suggested in the study may constitute a starting point to carry out further attempts of development within this aspect.

· The results of presented studies show that the Polish migrants, depending on a range of various conditions may feature ‘the possession’ of bridging and bonding capital with various intensity, where assessing the actual level of the capital held by a migrant is incredibly hard. Making a particular type of capital conditional on the affiliation to a network, we may not simply support a hypothesis that the contemporary Polish migrants hold a higher level of bonding migration capital than bridging capital because the results of the available studies do not pose a straightforward confirmation of the hypothesis about a higher significance of kinship networks than those based on relations other than kinship.

· Setting the problem in the current theoretical work on the subject, supported with the available empirical material, allowed partial analysis of the undertaken subject. This problem – due to its intricacy and multidimensional character – requires further, in-depth studies with the following questions constituting a possible starting point: How can we modify the assessment of bridging migration capital and bonding capital? What variables have a decisive influence over the level of each of the two types of migration capital?


1 Between 1989 and 2004 the Polish legal migration to the EU (EEC) was possible thanks to agreements signed by Poland with Germany, France, Luxembourg and Belgium.

2 Such an approach is called behavioural.

3 This study with respect to network will apply the definition accepted by D. Massey, who defined ‘migration networks as interpersonal relations arrangements, which join migrants, ex-migrants and non-migrants in the regions of origin and destination with ties of kinship, friendship and mutual origin’ (Massey and others 1993; Osipowicz 2002: 11).

4 Study carried out by Centrum Doradztwa Strategicznego s. c. [Strategy Consulting Centre].

5 Approach represented by Mioduszewska is convergent with that presented by researchers such as Górny and Stola in Ludzienahuśtawce, modelled on the concept of Espinosa and Massey (1999).


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