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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Moskal, M. (2014). Polish migrant youth in Scottish schools: conflicted identity and family capital. Journal of Youth Studies 17(2): 279-291.

Author(s) from Durham


The perspectives of migrant children and young people have been largely omitted in youth studies. Existing literature focuses predominantly on young people born to migrant parents in the host country, while the problems of first generation of migrant youth have received limited attention. This paper focuses on first-generation Polish migrants and their experiences in relation to school transition, new language learning and the changing family relationships in the new social environment. It draws on ethnographic research, including in-depth interviews collected from 17 young people (aged 12–17) and their parents, as well as participant observation within homes and schools. Exploring the concept of family capital, the paper builds on Bourdieu's theory of cultural and social capital and Coleman's theory of social capital. It examines family support and cultural values, the transferability of family capital from one country to another in terms of educational success and social mobility and the capacity of young people to draw on their family capital and to develop their own social capital in a host country. The findings are discussed with reference to the existing literature and the possible ways of supporting young people through the development of policies and school practices.

School of Education