Peer Groups & Migration

The friend groups in our project are basically seen as peer groups. We are looking at friend and peer groups which had functioned primarily when our respondents were 15 to 19-years-old and were attending high school, acquiring technical education or vocational training. This translates to young people who are still around 30-years-old or younger at present. We seek out friend/peer groups with at least one migrant, more specifically groups with one or more member for whom working abroad was one of the first labor market experiences.

Many spoken language terms, for instance (my/our) crew, posse, gang, clique, hommies and squad, are used to describe a peer group of friends that we wish to study. Our focus is less on the group having a common name that denotes their connection and group identity, but rather on what constitutes the group friendship in itself. We investigate who ‘hanged out’ with whom and who was included in various group and activities such as parties, events, concerts or 18th birthday celebrations, as the latter are often a stepping-stone of friendships and transitions in Poland. The groups we study could have been like a ‘little family’ characterized by their own language and slang exclusively understandable to the members.

Over the course of our research we want to discover what happens to peer groups in small towns that are known to be impacted by migration. We wish to learn whether young people still form and maintain friend groups in their hometown. We see relations with peers that either represent the final stage of education, or the one immediately preceding university studies that take place outside of their place of origin, as the critical markers of youth experience. Aside for gathering knowledge about whether and why the importance of the peer group persists, the project seeks to map the peer groups at its core. In other words, we want to monitor who has migrated, who stayed or returned, as well as compare the professional pathways and trajectories of young people who have once constituted a peer group.

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Why study and monitor peer groups?

Every person is sometimes curious about what happened to their school-gang and how different members of our peer group are faring in later life, especially when it comes to the chosen jobs and places of residence. This continuous interest sparked our interest in following the groups of friends. In a novel way, we neither focus on those who stayed behind nor on migrants, but ultimately connect their trajectories through the lens of shared experience during teenage years.

In order to monitor friend groups in Poland and abroad, we will be returning to the study participants three times over the course of four years between 2016 and 2020. This will create a matrix of both past and presently occurring events across the biographies of different members of each friend-group. Going back to see our respondents on several occasions lets us “update” the status of the peer group.

Further, in a spirit of reciprocity, our respondents can benefit from career coaching and professional job advice from the qualified personnel. This might prove critical at the early stage of career development that our young respondents may find themselves at. For more information visit Online Coaching Room.