Moving Masculinities: Polish Men's Migration Experiences in Oslo

Master thesis

Fisher, Kelly (2021) Moving Masculinities: Polish Men's Migration Experiences in Oslo. MA thesis, Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Read the MA thesis here

This thesis aims to explore the role of masculinities in the migration experiences of Polish male migrants in Norway. Research in migration studies that utilizes a gendered analysis primarily focuses on women’s experiences, resulting in a development where research on men’s gendered migration experiences has been less studied. Since Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004 Polish migrants have grown to the largest immigrant population in Norway. While this migration has been well researched from a labour market perspective, qualitative research looking at Polish migration has been less prominent, with different topics that could be further studied. This thesis is a qualitative study, where I interviewed 10 male Polish migrants living in Norway, who mostly were young, unmarried, and without children, to explore the main research question of the study, what role do masculinities play in the migration process? This question is further explored at several levels, including how ideas of masculinity shape migration motivations and navigations of a new place, but also to understand how they expressed feeling marginalized in Norway and how they then responded to this. I employ a combined use of narrative and thematic analysis to analyze the data from my interviews and use several masculinity theories and concepts to interpret the data and understand the role of masculinities in my participants’ migration processes. From my analysis I find that my participants draw upon different masculine ideals that influence their decision to migrate to Oslo, which touch on migrating as an adventure and also as a way to find a better work/life balance. Additionally, I find that my participants feel that there are different ideas around gender between Poland and Norway, which they then navigate around differently. This thesis thus aims to explore the way in which my participants felt that they, as Polish migrants, are seen in Norwegian society. My participants’ descriptions show that they feel Polish migrants in Norway fall into a middle ground of assumptions including positive traits as hard workers, but negative traits as well such as lower class ascriptions. In response to these marginalizing assumptions, participants in my study engage in a variety of strategies to try and position themselves more positively in Norwegian society such as distancing themselves from these stereotypes, or by comparing themselves more favorably to Norwegians. My thesis highlights dynamic social processes unfolding with Polish migrants in Norway resulting in social hierarchies. This thesis also demonstrates the relevance of a gendered analysis in understanding male migrants’ experiences and the variety of masculinities they engage with, challenging universalized assumptions of migrant men both in Norway and more broadly.

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