Beyond openness and prejudice: The consequences of migrant encounters with difference

Gawlewicz, Anna (2016). Beyond openness and prejudice: The consequences of migrant encounters with difference. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 48(2) pp. 256–272.



This article investigates the consequences of migrant encounters with difference in terms of ethnicity, religion, class, social status, sexuality and gender. While the notion of encounter has attracted much academic attention, in particular with regard to multiculture, social diversity and the challenge of living with difference, many of these debates tend to, oddly enough, overlook migrant populations. Furthermore, although they acknowledge that significant numbers of migrants to diverse societies such as the UK originate from much less diverse communities, they rarely reflect on the intricacies of production of difference in these respective places. Recognising these limitations, this article outlines the consequences of encounters with difference in the context of migration from Poland (a relatively homogeneous postcommunist society) to the UK (a ‘superdiverse’ post-colonial society). The article draws upon extensive empirical material collected among Polish post-2004 migrants to the Northern English city of Leeds. It establishes that migrant encounters result in development, revision or change of values and attitudes towards difference. This may involve a range of personal stances including favourable and prejudiced attitudes as well as, most likely, ‘complicated’ and ‘in-between’ responses.

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