Community Cohesion and Immigration: A Study of Polish Migrants in Llanybydder

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Tags: Community DevelopmentImmigration


The rural Welsh community of LLanybydder has experienced high levels of Polish immigration since the 2004 EU accession of the A8 countries. Llanybydder provided a unique case for studying the ‘new’ geography of settlement and associated community cohesion challenges. Relationships between Llanybydder’s long-term residents (LTR) and Polish migrants were investigated, to provide information on Polish immigrants’ impact on community cohesion.  Interactions between both ethnic groups were investigated via multi-methods, primarily through interviews from 15 LTR and 9 Polish migrants, augmented with document analysis, focussing on feelings of belonging, tensions and cultural differences.  The study indicated that Polish immigration had both negative and positive effects on community dynamics and cohesion.  Difference and diversity heightened tensions surrounding public services and local identity loss, but immigration also rejuvenated the community and provided valued healthcare workers. Established families of both LTR and Polish migrants displayed the highest level of integration, while lower levels were found for the older LTR and short-term economic migrants. Overall, LTR did not voice strong negative feelings against Polish migrants, rather that tensions were on a par with those found in any community. For the younger interviewees (LTR and Polish), age gaps and rurality were more important determinants of reduced community cohesion than immigration. Overall, LTR were neutral in their response as to whether Polish immigration had been a ‘gain or drain’ on LLanybydder.

Table of Contents

List of tables and figures  1

Acknowledgements  v

  1. Introduction  1

1.1 Context 1

1.2 Welcome to Llanybydder   2

  1. The aim of the study  3
  2. Layout of study  3
  1. Literature review  5

2.1 Community cohesion agenda and history 5

2.2 EU immigration  7

2.3 Immigration and community cohesion  8

2.4 Cohesion, integration and strong relationships 8

2.5 Immigration concerns   9

2.8 Research gaps  11

  1. Positioning within geography  12
  1. Methodology   13
    1. Introduction  13
    2. Site study  13
    3. Research framework & questions 14
    4. Research philosophy & approach 15
    5. Data collection  17
    6. Data analysis technique   20
    7. Data limitations 20
  2. Data analysis  21
    1. Sense of belonging  21
    2. Community tensions  28
    3. Cultural differences  35
    4. Strong, positive relationships  41
  3. Conclusion  46
    1. Concluding thoughts  46
    2. Limitation of study and & further research   48

Bibliography  50

       Appendices  60

List of Figures

Figure 1 – Location of Llanybydder, mid-west Wales………………………………………………………… 2

Figure 2 – Scheme for recruitment and interview process ………………………………………………. 18

Figure 3 – Percentage of LTR and Polish migrants who felt that Polish

migrants had integrated into the community …………………………………………………..45

List of Tables

Table 1 – Community Cohesion Framework for LLanybydder …………………………………………….14

Table 2 – Criteria used to promote research validity ………………………………………………………….16

Table 3 – Sense of ‘belonging’ to Llanybydder by LTR and Polish migrants …………………………27

Table 4 – LTR Perceived negative impacts of Polish immigration on Welsh Identity

in Llanybydder …………………………………………………………………………………………………….40

List of abbreviations

CIC            Commission of Integration and Cohesion

DCLG        Department for Communities and Local Government

HC             The House of Commons

IPRR          Investigating Process Research Resources

LGA           Local Government Association

LTR            Long-term residents

MAC          Migration Advisory Committee

MORI        Market & Opinion Research International

ONS          Office of National Statistics

STEM        Short-term economic migrants

Chapter 1: Introduction


1.1 Context

European Union (EU) immigration has become an increasingly important topic of study within Human Geography, due to its growing scope, complexity and impact, raising issues for community dynamics and trajectories (UN, 2017). Historically, the pace and scale of EU immigration to the UK has been relatively high, with increased rates since 2004, with the accession of eight eastern European countries (A8) (including Poland) to the EU (Migration Watch UK, 2016). This last decade has seen unprecedented rates, with numbers increasing three-fold since 2004, leading to approximately 3.2 million EU citizens living in the UK, making up 5% of the British population (Office of National Statistics (ONS), 2015). The Polish community played a key role in this phase of migration, with 750,000 migrating to the UK between 2005-2015 (Migration Watch UK, 2016).

This new phase of immigration has been the cause of much debate in host countries, surrounding the potential negative impacts that immigration is assumed to have on the welfare, national identity and security of settled residents (Dustman et al. 2009).  Opinions have coalesced surrounding the view that immigration is posing a threat to community cohesion. Community cohesion, although absent of a universally agreed definition, is essentially a process required in all communities to ensure different groups of people get on well together (Commission of Integration and Cohesion (CIC), 2007). The common issues that immigration pose to cohesion are the perceived weakening values, norms and qualities that people have in common thus, weakening the sense of community; the view that settled residents are marginalised, competing for scarce public resources and employment opportunities; and the over-stretching of public services (CIC, 2007).

Additional to this ‘new’ wave of immigration is the emergence of a new geography of settlement (Robinson, 2010). ‘New’ immigrants have begun to settle beyond the traditional location areas such as London and other metropolitan centres, to locations with relatively little history of immigration and experience of accommodating diversity and difference (Robinson, 2010). This new settlement pattern can be attributed to the shifting nature of UK employment opportunities for migrant workers such as agricultural and food processing industries, which has facilitated a large influx of migrants into rural areas (Cantle, 2005). Llanybydder, a rural-Welsh village, on the border of the Carmarthenshire county (Figure 1), has been exposed to this recently new phenomena.


1.2 Welcome to Llanybydder

Figure 1: Location of Llanybydder, mid-west Wales (Source:

Llanybydder, is a rural market village which straddles the River Teifi, forming the boundary between the counties of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. It is located 29km from Carmarthen Town, and 8km from the small university town, Lampeter (Carmarthenshire County Council, 2005). The population is approximately 2,832, with the majority aged 45 + and Welsh speaking (58%) (ONS, 2011). What is unique about this village is the high, unforeseen influx of EU economic immigrants, mostly Polish, to the area since 2004. An area, predominately white and welsh speaking, with no previous experience of immigration, now holds a population which is 12% Polish (ONS, 2016). The Polish community are now the largest ethnic minority group in the county (Kreft and Ritchie, 2009).

Crucial to this rise in Polish migrants was the development of the meat processing firm, Dunbia, which is now the villages main employer (Kreft and Ritchie, 2009). Dunbia claimed that due to the difficulty in recruiting from the local labour market, they became reliant in contracting migrant workers (Dunbia, 2006). This is clearly shown in the employment figures whereby three-quarter of the work force are now migrants (Kreft and Ritchie, 2009). Two different social groups, that hold different languages, cultures, values and norms are now living and working side by side one another. This unique case provides an interesting base to investigate the ways in which the new geography of immigration is reshaping local communities and the associated cohesion challenges.


1.3 The aim of the study

The main aim of this study is to:

Investigate whether Polish immigration [2004-present] is perceived to have had an impact on the community cohesion of Llanybydder, looking at both long term residents’ (LTR) and Polish migrant’s perspectives.


1.4 Layout of study

This chapter has provided a brief outline on the issue of immigration and community cohesion, the location and overarching aim of the study. Chapter 2 will discuss the academic context defining the study, providing a background into the community cohesion agenda, EU immigration and the current issues perceived to be brought by immigration. Chapter 3, the methodology section deals with the research questions that were formulated using a framework produced from the literature review, CIC (2007) definition of ‘community cohesion’, and primary data collection. This chapter will also contain an overview of the research design and methods used, such as the interview methods, document analysis and secondary data. Chapter 4, the analysis section will discuss the results from the interview and document analysis, in turn answering the research questions illustrated in the methodology section. Chapter 5, will seek to draw together the main findings of this study, and awareness to the implications of this study and ways in which this research could be furthered will be addressed.



Chapter 2: Academic context   

This review provides a comprehensive insight into two key issues that have recurrently appeared within UK policy debates over the last 15 years; EU migration and community cohesion. The literature on ‘migration’ and ‘community cohesion’ is vast, thus, for the purpose of this study only the most relevant literature will be reviewed. Through this critical analysis of literature, the justification for this research into investigating the impact of immigration on community cohesion, using the unique case study of Polish migrants in Llanybydder, will be identified, with particular attention to gaps in the research such as the neglect of rural regions and mixed-method approaches.


2.1 Community cohesion agenda and history

Community cohesion is a vague concept (House of Commons (HC), 2008). It has at least three formal national definitions since its emergence in 2001 (LGA, 2002; CIC, 2007; DCLG, 2008). Initially the focus of community cohesion was one of ethnic and racial tensions, however, increasingly it has been acknowledged that the concept goes beyond this to include other social factors such as age, gender and socio-economic status (Cooper and Innes, 2009). The foundations of the agenda were formed on the collective pessimism of policy makers and urban theorists surrounding the issue of the social cohesion ‘crisis’; what Castells (1997) refers to as the dissolution of shared identities that bind social systems together. Kearns and Forrest (2000) in their paper ‘Social cohesion and Multilevel Urban Governance’, attempt to disaggregate the concept of social cohesion by identifying five key elements (belonging, inclusion, participation, recognition and legitimacy). These key elements were used in the first formal definition of community cohesion by the Independent Review Team (LGA, 2002) replacing Kearns and Forrest’s ‘social cohesion’ dimensions with principal ‘community cohesion’ domains. This definition emphasizes that for communities to be cohesive, strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds are key, and a shared sense of belonging needs to be established (LGA, 2002).

In 2007, the CIC presented some departures from Kearns and Forrest (2000) conceptualisation in the launch of Our Shared Future, which added points around ‘trusts’, ‘rights’ and ‘responsibilities’ (Department for Education (DFE), 2010).  This agenda was updated due to two key developments that were perceived to be detrimental to the stability of societies. The first was the emergence of violent extremism, demonstrated by the 7/7 bombings in London. The second was the accession of the A8 countries to the European Union in 2004, which enabled a large movement of migrant workers into UK societies (DFE, 2010), the latter being the focal point of this study.

The current definition of community cohesion, defined by the Government in 2008 in response to Our Shared Future, argues that community cohesion is essential ‘in all communities to enable different groups of people to get on well together’ (HC, 2008, p.10). The government continues by emphasizing the importance of integration, with it almost becoming a synonym for cohesion. This definition claims to differ from former definitions (HC, 2008). Firstly, it stresses the importance of citizenship in building cohesion, and secondly it highlights the increasing importance of integration to cohesion (DFE, 2010). Thus, the relatively new term ‘community cohesion’ has proved highly complex to conceptualise, resulting in continual evolution of its interpretation and definition, providing challenges for its measurement. This conceptual uncertainty affords sound justification for exploring what the public of Llanybydder regard as community cohesion. This, coupled with theoretical knowledge gained from this analysis, enabled the development of a unique framework for measuring Llanybydder community cohesion.


The concept of community cohesion emerged as a discrete policy concern in government discourse following several disturbances and riots in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham in 2001, being termed ‘race riots’ within the news media (Home Office, 2001). These disturbances emphasized the fracturing of local communities, attributed to the existence of ‘parallel lives’ (Robinson, 2005). The term ‘parallel lives’ was established in the Cantle Report (2005), deliberately chosen to highlight the distinct separateness of the ‘white’ and ‘Asian’ communities that were seen to live, socialise and work in separate spheres (Cantle, 2005). Living ‘parallel lives’ is argued to create situations whereby communities are separated by ethnicity and/or faith which allows little opportunity for the development of shared values. This is claimed to have led many living in ignorance and fear of one another (Home Office, 2001). Due to the lack of attention given to this issue at the time, there was little effort in trying to dissemble these barriers. Thus, prejudices festered, hatred emerged and myths began to circulate, providing the conditions for tensions to persist, fracturing cohesion (Home Office, 2001). Though much of the focus initially was on the Northern English towns, now many different parts of the UK, and increasingly rural communities, display these characteristics of spatial and social segregation (HC, 2008).


2.2 EU immigration

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union that consists of 28 member countries (Oxford Dictionary, 2016). EU migrants enjoy free movement between the 28 EU member countries, allowing them freedom to live, work and retire in any EU state. EU migrants are therefore a key part of UK immigration policy. As mentioned in Chapter 1, net EU migration to the UK has been historically high, peaking post-A8 accession in 2004. During this expansion of the EU, the UK Labour government encouraged immigration allowing immediate and unlimited access to their labour market, which led to large influxes of migrants to UK societies (HC, 2008). This immigration flow is thought to have constituted the largest inflow of immigration in the UK’s history, with the Polish community playing a key role (Migration Watch UK, 2016). Wales has seen its migrant population increase by 82% in the last 10 years (BBC, 2014), which represents the greatest percentage increase of all UK countries, with Polish-born representing the largest immigrant group (BBC, 2014). With these high figures, extensive literature on this recent, unprecedented immigration to Wales would be expected. However, this review demonstrates that this was not the case. Studies on community cohesion and immigration have largely focused on Asian (mainly Muslim) populations with little attention to other ethnic groups. The high net influx of Polish migrants to Wales, coupled with the neglect of immigration studies in rural Wales, provides clear validation for the location and context of this study.


2.3 Immigration and community cohesion

Contemporary public debates often associate increasing immigration with erosion of community cohesion and increased inter-community tensions (Crowley et al, 2008). However, the relationship between the number of migrants in a particular area and levels of cohesion within it, is not straightforward (HC, 2008). Although community cohesion and immigration policy have stirred much heated debate, there has been little research connecting the two policy areas (Flint and Robinson, 2008). Although opinions are divided amongst different actors (general public, politicians and academic researchers) as to whether immigration is a predictor of lowered community cohesion, the impacts of immigration on receiving communities are complex and wide-ranging, potentially affecting communities socially, culturally and economically (Home Office, 2014).  However, assessing these impacts is challenging, firstly, as it is difficult to separate migration impacts from other factors that may affect cohesion (such as socio-economic deprivation). Secondly, the DFE (2010) state that there are numerous demographic and socio-economic variables that determine ones’ perception of cohesion, for example; age, education level, household income and emotional well-being.


2.4 Cohesion, integration and strong relationships

Saggar et al. (2012) in their study state that immigration may impact integration which under the most recent definition is vital to community cohesion (HC, 2008). Integration defined by the UN (2005) is seen as a process whereby all individuals participate to achieve and uphold peaceful and social relations of coexistence and cohesion. The report on Community Cohesion and Migration, ordered by The House of Commons (2008) highlights the necessity of integration and the establishment of strong, positive relationships between the long-term residents (LTR) and migrants. Firstly, to ensure that migrants understand the expectations and norms of their new community and secondly, to guarantee that migrants are able to; access public services, participate in the community, and know their rights to avoid exploitation by employers and/or landlords. Integration also concerns understanding the trajectories of immigration within social and economic domains, for example employment, social interaction, education, housing and health (Saggar et al, 2012). Understanding these trajectories will aid greater insight into the level of integration within a community and the factors influencing it.


2.5 Immigration concerns

2.5a Identity threat and ‘otherness’

Cohesion cannot be improved without addressing public concerns (HC, 2008). Literature surrounding the topic of immigration and its impact on society is wide-ranging and diverse. Castles (2002) states that immigrant settlement may have an impact on the local economy, transforming communities and forcing the re-examination of social and cultural values. Cantle (2005) defines a cohesive society as one where cultural differences are embraced and valued. However, greater cultural, ethnic and religious diversity driven by immigration is perceived to be a threat to UK national identity, which has been linked with rising tensions between residents and new migrants, threatening cohesion (Zetter et al, 2006).  As Spohn and Triandafyllidou (2003) state ‘othering’ of immigrants is often used to ‘achieve’ or enhance local identity, as immigrants are seen as threatening ‘others’ that challenge a community’s perceived unity and authenticity. Kreft and Ritchie (2009) in their paper looked at substance abuse amongst the Polish migrants in Carmarthenshire as a threat to local identity and public order. However, Saggar et al. (2012) concluded that immigration plays a limited role in threatening national identity, and suggest that other factors such as globalisation, war, religion, and the influence of the right wing are of more significance. Crowley et al. (2008) supports this, their study across six sites in the UK on immigration and cohesion concluded that this general conception was ‘out of step’ with the reality of everyday life, attributing it to transformation in structural processes; globalisation, post-industrialism and individualisation.




2.5b Unemployment

Many of the British public fear that the scale and pace of immigration into UK communities has exacerbated unemployment, particularly the economic migrants from eastern European countries, that are said to be contributing to rising competition and decreased wages locally (Markova and Black, 2007). The HC (2008) report highlights that rising unemployment can limit community participation and produce feelings of resentment against immigrants around issues of entitlement, argued to hinder a community’s cohesion. Such anxiety may be felt by some more than others, bringing increased competition to some, but more choice to others (Saggar et al, 2012). Previous academic studies differ in their conclusions on the potential displacement of local residents by migrants (MAC, 2012). The Home Office (2014) states that the impact of migration on the labour market depends on a wide range of aspects that are constantly changing, and thus this impact is not a universal, ‘one size fits all’ answer. To date there has been limited statistical evidence within literature on the significance of EU migration on host community employment. The increased competition for jobs is a common negative perception held by low-skilled, local born workers (HC, 2008). This has contributed to a view that immigration is undesirable, argued to be a key factor in the British decision to leave the EU in the Summer of 2016 (Springford, 2013). Investigating the impact of an immigrant group on a community will aid a greater understanding into why these negative perceptions fester at the local level.


2.5c Public services

The strain migration is perceived to place on public services has stirred much public debate. According to the MORI poll (2007), 56% of British adults believed that immigrants get unfair, priority access to public services. Immigration adds to the local population and is likely, therefore, to place some pressures on public services. The most common areas of concern cited within the literature were the pressures immigration places on local schools and the NHS (HC, 2008). The MAC (2012) pointed out that the impacts of immigration on local public services are very difficult to pinpoint. The strain on public services varies depending on individual migrant characteristics. For example, most immigrants are young adults and therefore do not require as much health service support as the UK born do. Nevertheless, according to The Migration Observatory (2015) migrants are more likely to have young children and therefore rely more on education. However, migrants pay taxes and make up a significant part of the public service workforce, thus contributing to the provision of public services (HC, 2008). There is little research however on the impacts of immigration on the quality of public services (MAC, 2012). For example, the additional challenge for schools to deal with an influx of migrants could drain school budgets and reduce teaching quality. Local perceptions (although they may be misconstrued) on issues surrounding misuse of healthcare and draining of school budgets are significant (Duffy and Frere-Smith,2014), as they colour individuals’ judgement on the impacts of immigration on communities. This can raise considerable barriers for cohesion, particularly when the local-born feel marginalised.


2.6 Research gaps

There is a large body of literature exploring the effect of immigration on communities. A study undertaken by Allen and Blinder (2016) found that roughly three quarters of the UK population favoured reduced levels of immigration. This study derived its findings from discourse analysis, analysing the language in newspapers over the last decade. This investigation, like several others, have focused on one method of data collection, leaving a significant gap for a mixed-methods approach to be adopted, which is considered to reduce biases and increase accuracy (Bowen, 2009). The HC in their report on Community Cohesion and Migration (2008) adopted a mixed -methods approach, utilising interviews, focus groups, questionnaires and secondary evidence. However, this research was not extended to Wales and focused only on large towns and cities. Studying rural communities is of increasing importance, as these are areas that have had little previous history of inward migration initially at least, therefore, migration may come as a major shock to the community, which could have detrimental impacts on its level of cohesion.




2.7 Positioning within geography

This review highlights the geographical foundations of this study to be imbedded in the spatial patterns and processes located within migration studies. Migration studies analyse the movement of people from one country/area to another, a space-time phenomenon, making it fundamentally geographical (King, 2012). Paradoxical to this mobility, is the stability-within-movement which recognises international migrants in particular, with cultural divides, that form attachment to locality, geographies of belonging and community, and adoption of citizenship (Blunt, 2007). The issues and aim of this study (see Chapter 1) firmly place it under the umbrella of cultural and social geography.  Cultural geographies of diaspora are investigated in this study, in terms of its relationship between the diaspora itself, and the residents in the country in which it exists (Esman, 2009).

The definition of community cohesion is dynamic and perceived differently amongst certain groups. However, it is clear that although the impact of migration on community cohesion is difficult to measure public opinion, perception and feelings are all highly significant predictors, and therefore these form the information base of this study. What is conclusive from this review is that most research has focused on inner-city areas, that have experienced high influxes of immigration, however, the impact of immigration to rural Wales is neglected, which is unexpected considering the high level of eastern-European immigration it has experienced. Although some economic impacts of immigration are well documented, such as employment and public finance, the cultural effects of immigration on a community have often been neglected, and argued to be inferior to other determinants of cohesion (Saggar et al. 2012). Additionally, while the impact of immigration on communities in terms of ethnic diversity is well documented, there is little information on the impact of one migrant group upon a single community. Furthermore, a possible new influence on community cohesion is Brexit, but due to its novelty, little research on community cohesion has been undertaken since the referendum.  Thus, the research gaps illustrated above, provide clear justification for investigating community cohesion in Llanybydder, a rural village that has incurred a high level of Polish migrants.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology      

3.1 Introduction

The research design, data collection and data analysis used here are explained and justified with emphasis on the value of epistemology.  Explanations for the choice of study site, research questions, and the relevance of the methods used are given. The importance of appropriate methods in providing valid data, which enables credible conclusions to be drawn (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015) is highlighted.

3.2 Study Site

Llanybydder, a rural Welsh village, in the traditional Welsh-speaking heartland of Carmarthenshire (Morgan, 2014) (Figure 1) was chosen due to the unprecedented influx of Polish immigrants to the area in 2004, after the accession of the A8 countries to the EU. For economic reasons, Carmarthenshire was a principle destination for Polish migrants post-2004 (Jones and Lever, 2014). The ONS (2011) recorded 2,003 Polish residents in Carmarthenshire, accounting for 37% of the total Polish population in rural Wales (ONS, 2016) and 12% of the Llanybydder population (Kreft and Ritchie, 2009). Llanybydder has an estimated 58% of Welsh speakers (Census, 2011). Data for this study was collected 3-6 months after the EU referendum, a potentially significant factor in this research. Thus, I believe that this rural village, that lacked previous experience of immigration and ethnic diversity prior to 2004, that has a high proportion of Welsh speakers, and has experienced an unforeseen influx of Polish migrants, is an appropriate place to investigate the effects of an immigrant group on community cohesion.

3.3 Research framework and questions

This research necessitated analysis of the complexities of the geography of community cohesion and the phenomenon of immigration to determine the relationship between them. The CIC (2007) definition of community cohesion was initially intended to form the basis of this research. However, as the research progressed it became apparent that the concept of community cohesion was malleable and more broadly interpreted by different participants. Thus, the CIC (2007) definition was coupled with the data from the 24 semi-structured interviews undertaken in this research to formulate a specific community cohesion framework for Llanybydder (Table 1.)

Table 1. Community Cohesion Framework for LLanybydder

Principles outlined by CIC (2007) Priorities outlined by participants


Shared future vision – emphasising what binds communities together Integration & strong positive relationships
Rights and responsibilities –  sense of citizenship and obligations for communities Sense of belonging
Hospitality – positive relationships and mutual respect between people from different backgrounds, fundamental to integration and cohesion Cultural differences valued and embraced
Sense of trust – commitment to equality and transparency Shared life opportunities

(Source: Authors own)

This framework was then adapted with the theoretical knowledge from the literature review to incorporate the host-migrant relationships and thus, the impact of immigration on community cohesion in Llanybydder to construct the research questions:


Research questions:

  1. To what extent and in what ways do the LTR and Polish migrants have a sense of belonging to Llanybydder?
  2. To what extent are there tensions between LTR and Polish migrant groups in Llanybydder?
  3. To what extent and in what ways are cultural differences perceived negatively amongst the community (both LTR and Polish migrants)?
  4. To what extent have strong, positive relationships between LTR and Polish migrants been established in Llanybydder?

3. 4 Research philosophy and approach

Exploring individuals’ perceptions of their sense of community formed the basis of this study. These interpretationsexist internally and are therefore measured subjectively through reflection, sensation or perception, rather than being measured through objective methods. This study adopted a naturalist approach, involving qualitative tools such as observation, questioning and description (Rubin and Rubin, 2011). Social interpretive philosophy (Baxter and Eyles, 1997) underpinned this research, investigating and reflecting upon the inner feelings and perceptions of the participants, concerned with understanding and analysis of specific contexts as the interviewees themselves viewed them.

Data triangulation was the approach adopted for this study. Triangulation, has been defined as ‘the combination of methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon’ (Denzin, 1970 p.291). Thus, mixed-methods allows the researcher to compare findings across data sets (Field, 2016) which in turn reduces the impact of biases that may occur within a single study (Bowen, 2009).  Accordingly, the data collected in this research was obtained from semi-structured interviews and both qualitative (document analysis) and quantitative secondary data.  It is noteworthy that previous work on this topic tended to focus on singular methods, using primary or secondary evidence in isolation (see Chapter 2).  During this research, the strategies of Johnson (1997) (Table 2) were adhered to as far as possible, helping promote greater validity to the research. The strategy of reflexivity was observed particularly stringently, with every effort made to remain impartial during data collection to prevent personal biases skewing the data and resultant derived findings.


Table 2: Criteria used to promote research validity (Johnson, 1997)


3.5 Data collection
3.5a Semi-structured interviews

Semi-structured interviews were considered the most appropriate method for this research and constituted the main source of data collection. A semi-structured interview is a verbal interchange where the interviewer attempts to draw information from the participant (Longhurst, 2016). Asking open ended questions allows participants to raise unanticipated topics, enabling deeper exploration of issues that are important to them (Longhurst, 2016). Thus, as noted for similar studies (Cohen and Manion, 1997) the use of semi-structured interviews facilitates gathering of in-depth, personal information about the perceptions and values of the interviewees, which could prove invaluable when exploring the sense of community cohesion in Llanybydder. Furthermore, use of open–ended questions when addressing participants’ conceptual perceptions of cohesion and its level in Llanybydder invite unexpected information, allowing a more relevant and expressive interview to be conducted.

To ensure clarity of questioning during the interview, a pilot interview with a family member was conducted, resulting in minor adjustment and rephrasing of some questions. Anonymity was afforded to all participants throughout this process due to the sensitive nature of some of the topics discussed during the time of data collection (soon after the EU referendum). Furthermore, as recommended by Flowerdew and Martin (1997), to prevent any awkward feelings it was made clear at the start of the interview that interviewees were not obliged to answer any question they did not wish to. To put participants at their ease, the conversation started off informally, asking participants to explain a bit about themselves, and then questions were asked more specifically with regard to the research aims. As I am bilingual (English/Welsh) I gave participants the option for the interview to be conducted in Welsh, two of them wished to do so as they felt they could express their opinion more easily in their first language.

Snowball sampling was used to recruit the majority of the participants. This technique yields a sample whereby existing participants recruit future interviewees from their acquaintances (Biernacki and Waldorf, 1981). This was the easiest method for referral, due a) to the research being community based and b) Llanybydder ‘s small population, a scheme summarising the recruitment and interview process is demonstrated below (Figure 2). However, as ‘snowballing’ has been criticized for only recruiting a certain sample group, participant posters (with certain criteria) were also distributed throughout the village a month prior to data collection this provided a greater representation of participants. In order to try and obtain an illustrative sample, participants were of different genders and ages, and long-term residents (LTR) must have lived within the village for more than fifteen years.

Figure 2: Scheme for recruitment and interview process. (Source: Authors own)

The interviews lasted between twenty and sixty minutes and were recorded using a Dictaphone, enabling the interviewer to give the interviewee their full attention. This yielded a thorough interview, allowing emotions and lived experiences to be conveyed (Hoggart et al, 2002). Using a Dictaphone allowed the interview to be listened to many times during the analysis phase enabling highly accurate transcription of the interviews, and appropriate coding.

3.5b Secondary data

Secondary data is information that already exists in the public domain (Tyrell, 2016). This data provided context for the study, and was used in the analysis phase to verify experiences, opinions or concepts brought up in the interviews.  Quantitative secondary data was obtained from various sites including ‘Gov.UK’, whereby findings were compared to the collected primary data, enabling the research to be discussed within a wider context, and provided a basis for comparison from previous studies (Tyrell, 2016). Qualitative secondary data (document analysis) was also obtained and analysed, allowing examination and interpretation of documents to voice and give meaning to the topic (Field, 2016). Document analysis was appropriate here as it allowed the analysis and discussion of specific texts relevant to the research questions on community cohesion (Bowen, 2009).  This method complemented the primary research method (interviews), highlighting alternative representations and perspectives around the topic of community and cohesion, allowing more confident statements and conclusions to be drawn. The variety of documents used are listed in Appendix 1.

3.7 Data analysis technique

Coding is an integral process for both analysing interview data and document analysis (DeCuir-Gunby et al. 2011), which is used to ‘organize data, develop analytical structures, identify trends emerging from the text, and build themes that connect empirical findings with a broader conceptual literature’ (Cope and Kurtz, 2016, p. 648). The primary and secondary data were analysed through ‘coding’.  Thus, open coding was the first step of this process. Here codes or concepts were created from reoccurring themes identified within the interviews and documents. After revising the codes in context, connections that existed between the codes were identified through axial coding. These codes were divided to correspond to the research aims and a code table was developed (see Appendix 2). These core themes were then interrogated and analysed (see Appendix 3 for coded transcriptions). The derived interpretations of this data coupled with secondary data was used to address the research questions.

3.8 Data limitations

Throughout the research, I aimed to be impartial. However, bias is present during any research, especially during qualitative research, and the use of codes to interpret the meanings behind responses are highly subjective (Gavron, 1996). For example, different conclusions may be drawn from the data which is highly dependent on the positionality of the researcher, thus, although bias is unavoidable awareness of this issue during analysis will help (Gavron, 1996). A further limitation of coding is that broader themes may lead to the over-generalisations of issues, and important points may be over-looked if they do not occur sufficiently frequently. Representation was a further limitation of this study, although several steps were undertaken to ensure a comprehensive representation, most short-term, Polish migrants were unable to speak English or Welsh, and with no Polish interpreter available, this group was absent from interviews.





Chapter 4: Data analysis

This chapter examines the relationships within and between two social groups (LTR and Polish migrants), their sense of belonging, and the changing identity of Llanybydder. This analysis will enable a greater understanding on whether Polish immigration has affected Llanybydder’s community cohesion since 2004. Each research question, constructed using the Community Cohesion Framework (Table 1) informed by the primary and secondary research will be answered. The sample contained 15:9 host/migrant participants (see Appendix 4).

4. 1. To what extent and in what ways do the long-term residents and Polish migrants have a sense of belonging to Llanybydder?

The Local Government Association (2005) defines a cohesive community as one where people hold a shared sense of belonging to their neighbourhoods. Interview data showed clear mutual agreement amongst LTR and migrants, that a sense of belonging was necessary for building a successful community. A sense of belonging ensures civic engagement, strengthens community bonds (Chaix, 2014), creating a culture of respect and mutual citizenship (CIC, 2007). According to Chaix (2014) ‘belonging’ locates itself at the crossroads ‘between identity and alterity, inclusion and exclusion’ (p.42).  With growing globalisation and rapid demographic and cultural change, fear of losing original identities and shared values undermines peoples’ sense of belonging (Umunna, 2016). To progress cohesiveness, CIC (2007) advises shifting focus from what migrants should or shouldn’t do, to concentrating on what all members should share. Two main themes related to a sense of belonging that appeared within all interviews and were highlighted in documentary analysis were the attachment to place and inclusion/exclusion.


4.1a Attachment to place

Berdoulay (1989) states that attachment to place involves personal experience, feeling and emotion, coupled with the value we as individuals attach to these areas. Cantle (2017), amongst others (CIC,2007; Kreft and Ritchie, 2009) claim that those who share deep attachments to a locality have an increased sense of ‘belonging’ to it, positively contributing to cohesion as it focuses on what people have in common. Concentrating on inter-group commonalities rather than differences, aids breakdown of stereotypes and prejudice, encouraging mutual respect and understanding (Cantle, 2017).

10/15 of LTR interviewed felt strongly attached to Llanybydder, most of whom were born and raised there:

“I’ve lived here for 32 years, I grew up in the Breyonan council estate, and went to the local school.  Now I have a family and my children are growing up here and attending the same primary school, I haven’t left, it’s my home, my family and friends live here and have done for years.”
(Interviewee C, LTR)

For this interviewee, like others, the familiarity of the area, convenience of the local school, and family members living nearby were defining aspects of attachment and local belonging. The general consensus of the older LTR and those with established families was that they had no desire to move. This higher degree of attachment may be due to participants’ length of stay, which is regarded by Sampson (1991) as a predictor of sense of belonging to a community, as those that are long-established are more likely to be involved with the community and have larger social networks.

However, the arrival of Polish migrants, with different social and cultural norms may be viewed as breaching established patterns of community behaviour, which can be seen as undesirable by LTR’s (Cantle, 2005). Thus, the act of ‘street collecting’ (pointed out by all LTR), elicited apprehension amongst some of the LTR (mainly female), negatively affecting feelings of attachment to the area:

“Some of my children feel threatened after dark and uneasy in the village because some of the Polish men hang around in large gangs and groups.”

(Interviewee V, LTR)

Other LTR’s stated that they withheld from walking to the village at night, due to the feelings of unease facilitated by the collection of Polish men on the street, leading to the exclusion of this particular group from the community after dark. Kearns and Forest (2000) highlight in their study (see Chapter 2) that this sense of exclusion from the community can significantly fracture cohesion, as it ruptures an individual’s local attachment.

Younger participants largely displayed a lower degree of attachment to Llanybydder:

“There’s not much here for young people, there’s not much food places coffee shops, or jobs. So, it’s a very shut off community, also because of the different ages gaps, there’s either really young people or really old, when I get the money I’ll be moving out [laughs]”.

(Interviewee E, LTR)

A study on factors influencing rural migration decisions supports this account, reporting that, urban areas are more attractive places for younger people to live as they:

“Offer more social and economic opportunities for young people, as well as more personal freedom and choice.

(Scottish Government, 2010)

This study highlighted that wide age gaps and the lack of social activities in a community decrease social interaction. This, coupled with rurality issues of lack of employment and life opportunities for the younger LLanybydder populous, were regarded as hindrances to their attachment, and therefore sense of belonging to Llanybydder. Such social detachment was reinforced by a 20-year-old, Polish migrant:

“There is nothing much to do there, and like with me, I don’t imagine myself living there in the future.”

(Interviewee J, Polish migrant)

However, when asked: ‘Where would you call home, Wales or Poland?’, all participants called Wales their home, many stating that they did not wish to return to Poland in the future, and those with established families like Interviewee S, had similar family reasons for this attachment:

“Poland hasn’t been my home for 11 years, it’s just not my home, Wales is my home. I have most of my family here. Now my daughter is in year 5, I can’t go back, it’s a different schooling system and her Polish isn’t up to scratch.”

(Interviewee H, Polish migrant)



4.1b Inclusion/exclusion

In addition to locality attachment, feelings of belonging to a community are influenced by experiences of inclusion and exclusion (Cantle, 2017). Miller and Katz (2002) define inclusion as being equally able to participate in an activity/service as any other community member, feeling respected and valued for who they are.

All LTR interviewed felt strongly included within the community. Village activities such as the carnival, bonfire night and the Christmas fair came up frequently when participants were asked the question ‘Do you feel included in the community, if so how?’:

“Yes, I do feel very included. As I’ve lived here my whole life and because I work in the local school, I do. I take part in things such as organising the Christmas fair, helping-out at carnivals and supporting the local rugby team”.

(Interviewee B, LTR)

For this participant, length of stay (similar to Interviewee S) positively affected community participation, coupled with the locality/type of work, and village events.

Although all Polish interviewees felt they had equal access to opportunities, services and activities, many did not feel fully included in the community:

“Well actually I haven’t got any special contact with the community, I don’t feel very part of it, but it is alright.”

(Interviewee U, Polish migrant)

As Bruhn (2011) highlights in his paper, social inclusion is a complex concept because individuals can be simultaneously included and excluded from different aspects of society.  Chaix (2004) claims that experiences of discrimination can promote exclusion and undermine feelings of belonging, highlighted here:

“After Brexit, there have been a lot of nasty comments to me, it’s not nice”.

(Interviewee M, Polish migrant)

In addition to some of the Polish feeling partially excluded from the community, many LTR voiced concerns regarding locals being excluded from the local labour market due to competition from Polish migrants, although only one interviewee was directly affected by this:

“I felt the effects of immigration on my job. My hours were getting cut, I didn’t want to work there anymore as they were slowly starting to get rid of British workers and replacing them with Polish, I feel like they have taken over.”

(Interviewee R, LTR)

This participant left employment with Dunbia due to reduced working hours, perceived as expedited by increases in Polish employees, and feelings of being ‘taken-over’. The problem he identified is the neoliberal logics of the new economy, replacing established workers with cheaper, new arrivals, facilitating exclusion and disrupting cohesiveness. As highlighted in Chapter 2.6 the HC report (2008) and Hickman et al. (2012) paper conclude that this resultant anger facilitates feelings of resentment which is targeted at the migrants perceived to be influencing reductions in low-skilled labour costs. Moreover, this type of exclusion, also referred to as ‘othering’ identified in Chapter 2.5, is a prominent theme of this study.

LTR commonly referenced this:

“There’s enough now we don’t need anymore.”

(Interviewee R, LTR)

“People call Llanybydder mini-Poland now.”

(Interviewee L, LTR)

This outlook instantly excludes migrants by referring to them as ‘other’, socially constructing a group identity viewed as different to theirs. Wetherell et al. (2007) states that the concept of ‘otherness’ is how a divided community achieves common identification, by discovering a second group. Here a group identity is created through recognition of ‘sameness’, promoting cohesion between the LTR, but reducing cohesion between both groups. This highlights that ‘belonging’ unavoidably creates ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’.

All interviewees (LTR and migrant) had some sense of belonging to Llanybydder, the extent depending on individual perceptions and experiences, these are summarised in the table below (Table 3).  There was a clear higher degree of ‘sense of belonging’ for those with longer residency and those with established families, with younger LTR and migrants tending to feel lower degrees of ‘belonging’, due to rurality and demographic issues. Most Polish interviewees had some sense of’ ‘belonging’, (regarding Llanybydder as home) however, discrimination and lack of community participation were viewed as reducing feelings of ‘belonging’.


Table 3: Sense of ‘belonging’ to Llanybydder by LTR and Polish migrants(expressed as a percentage of total interviewees)

Perception/feeling Percentage LTR Percentage Polish
Yes No No opinion Yes No No opinion
Regarded Wales as ‘home’ 100 0 0 100 0 0
Strong attachment to Llanybydder 67 231 0 67 231 0
Feelings of Inclusion 100 0 0 78 11 11
Feelings of exclusion 402 60 0 333 55 11

LTR n=15, Polish n=9

1 Mainly younger LTR and Poles who felt Llanybydder did not have much to offer them.
2 Mainly females feeling excluded from walking through the village after dark due to street collecting- feeling intimidated.
3 Largely based on unpleasant, racist comments post-Brexit; prior to Brexit had not received any such comments.



4.2 To what extent are there tensions between LTR and Polish migrant groups in Llanybydder?  

Tensions exist within and between all communities, becoming problematic when they escalate to negatively impact community cohesion (HC, 2008). During the 2016 EU referendum ‘leave’ campaign, immigration issues received greatly increased publicity, with hostility towards immigration being argued to have significantly influenced the BREXIT vote (Tilford 2016). Although no large-scale disturbances associated with immigration have been reported in rural Britain (HC, 2008), with more migrants settling in rural regions, understanding underlying tensions between host and migrant populations could help prevent fragmentation and public disorder

Many studies and newspaper articles that were coded highlighted perceptions by low-income LTR that job opportunities are reduced by increased immigration, stimulating inter-group hostility (Telegraph, 2013; HC, 2008; Dwyer et al. 2012; Markova and Black, 2007), However, of the fifteen LTR interviewed, only one had been directly affected, despite others voicing concern for this, and therefore this issue is not discussed further here (see Limiting Factors Chapter 3.9).

Migrants arriving into areas with overstretched public services can generate local hostility (Pillai et al. 2007; Hickman et al. 2012) and the belief by 56% of British adults that immigrants get priority access to public services (HC, 2008) can further fuel local resentment. Evidence from visiting Llanybydder and conducting the interviews, indicated the main tensions between LTR and Polish migrants related to pressures placed on local health care and education and these are discussed below.

4.2.a Health care

A common concern of LTR were the increased pressure Polish migrants were placing on the local hospital and waiting times at Llanybydder’s GP surgery.  A minority claimed that Poles abused the system and were prioritised over locals, facilitating feelings of frustration amongst some of the host community:

“There is more people coming into this country and it is putting even further strain on the system. There was a lady that lived two doors from here, her mother came over from Poland and she was only here for a few months, but in that time she had a knee operation and we didn’t see her after that, looks like she took the free health care and left…It is really frustrating and unfair.”

(Interviewee A, LTR)

 “When I did get through [to the surgery], they were like ‘there’s no appointments left today, phone again tomorrow’. It never ever used to be like that, and it’s so frustrating. I think as well because here they [Polish] get health care free, they take complete advantage of the system.”

(Interviewee L, LTR)

The perception by some locals of Poles misusing the service and getting priority has been argued by Cook et al., (2012) to cause resentment amongst the established host community. This resentment can elicit tensions between both groups, especially when migrants feel that this perception is unjust, which can lead to segregation, negatively affecting cohesion (Gold and Nawyn, 2013).




“I work at the residential home in the village, I love my job, and I really enjoy being around people and caring for them. It annoys me when people say we are stretching their system, we work very hard to keep it going”..“I haven’t heard it directly no, it’s more of what I read on the internet and in newspapers”

(Interviewee O, Polish migrant)

Newspapers such as ‘The Telegraph’ have expressed ‘public concern’ surrounding the issue of EU immigrants in their articles, claiming their presence fuels community tensions as the NHS becomes increasingly overstretched, minimising any benefits reaped from immigration. Articles have blamed  EU immigrants’ poor English for increased GP waiting times, and additional translator costs (The Telegraph, 2013).

Low-skilled immigrants are creating overcrowding, fuelling community tensions and putting pressure on the NHS.” If we do not implement the proper controls, communities can be damaged, resources will be stretched and the benefits that immigration can bring are lost or forgotten.

(The Telegraph, July 3rd 2013)


Such articles may influence judgements such as Interviewee O’s, generating tensions that may have been previously absent. However, traditionally ‘The Telegraph’ articles have a right-wing slant (Wright and Cooper, 2016) and should be read with circumspection and awareness of the underlying bias.  Contrary to ‘The Telegraph’ articles, not all the LTR’s shared their view and correspondingly did not express feeling the reported tensions. Instead, there was some appreciation of Polish migrants’ contribution to the NHS workforce, stating that most of the staff at the local residential home, ‘Allt Y Mynydd’ were Polish.


 “One or two have mentioned this in the village over the years, again not a big issue, all these foreigners putting stress on the national health service, you’ve just got to ask them ‘who’s your doctor?! Who’s your nurse?! Oh, that ever so nice guy from Spain and that lovely woman from Poland’”

(Interviewee D, LTR)

Nevertheless, some inter-group tensions exist in Llanybydder, regarding overstretching the health system, with all LTR voicing frustration at longer GP waiting times. 4/15 (mainly older, LTR’s) expressed anxieties regarding perceived misuse and preferential care of Polish migrants. Despite widespread newspaper coverage supporting such concerns, a quarter of the LTR appreciated the contribution that many Poles make to the health system and a third did not accuse the Poles, but saw the issue as an inevitable cause of a developing village. Others did not blame the Polish migrants, but the health system for not hiring sufficient staff to offset increased demands.


4.2 b Local schools

Increased immigration has led to perceived negative impacts on the education system, such as unsustainable class sizes, reduced teaching quality and drained school budgets (Ross 2016).  Such views are reinforced by newspaper articles such as ‘The Telegraph’:

“Schools are under huge and unsustainable pressure from a dramatic rise in the number of children from European migrants’ families, ….“the equivalent of about 27 new average-sized secondary schools- or 100 primary schools – need to be built to cope with the rise in demand for places.”

(The Telegraph, May 2016)

Although this article may exaggerate the case somewhat, the HC (2008) report presented evidence that in some localities unexpected numbers of migrant children have increased competition for school places with attendant tensions with the established community. However, competition for places in Llanybydder’s primary school was not an issue and did not fuel tensions:

“The increasing number of Polish children has impacted us positively because in a primary school we need certain numbers for us to stay open. Without the Polish children, we wouldn’t be able to do this. So that is good for us. Negatively, it is a drain on our school budget because we have to have people that come in to help them with their language.”

(Interviewee B, LTR & primary school teacher)

Contrary to other sources, the number of migrant children in LLaybydder, was perceived by the LTR to contribute positively to the school as they prevented school closure:


 “It’s good you know, with the Polish children joining the village school, it keeps the school running, and we have had a lot of issues with numbers in the past, but now it’s a lot more stable, which is great for my kids.”

(Interviewee C, LTR)

Feelings of appreciation between local and migrant parents had clearly emerged fostering positive relations that are central to cohesion, which is further discussed in Chapter 4.4. The discrepancy between other sources and the current study may reflect that most research has focussed on urban areas where competition for school places is high (see Chapter 2). However, as reported by a primary school teacher (Interviewee B), migrant children incur added costs, largely from additional translation services and extra English language teaching (IPRR 2007). This problem was echoed by a senior primary school staff member (Interviewee P), stating that a major challenge was the lack of extra local government (LG) funding for these additional services. LG ‘s voiced concerns that community cohesion can be impaired with increased competition for resources due to inadequate funding from the government for migration (HC, 2008). These concerns for resource competition were expressed by some LTR in terms of understaffing, and perceived dilution of teaching quality:

“I think it’s difficult for the teachers to concentrate and teach when they’ve got 5/6 other children in the class that don’t understand English and therefore they’re putting the Welsh children aside when they’re stuck to try and teach the foreign children to understand.”

(Interviewee A, LTR)

However, this was a general misconception, as a primary school teacher highlighted that there was a specific system in place, to prevent such instances:

“No, I don’t think it decreases the quality of teaching. I differentiate my lessons three ways anyway, I have higher, middle, lower abilities.”

(Interviewee B, LTR & primary school teacher)

Although some LTR’s perception that Welsh children were being marginalised may be misconceived, such feelings tend to indirectly colour the way individuals sense the impact of immigration on their community, and thus its level of cohesion (Duffy and Frere-Smith., 2014). There was an overall mixed perception as to whether Polish migrants have negatively affected the village school, which has generated different degrees of tensions amongst the LTR. The migrant children are perceived positively with respect to keeping the village school open, but, concerns were voiced surrounding school budgetary issues and perceived dilution of teaching quality.


4.2.c Other tensions

According to the interviewees and local newspapers (Ceredigion News) that although with the first wave of immigration in 2004 there were a few pub fights, provoked by unspecified tensions between LTR and Polish migrants, no major disputes have occurred since, and some interviewees regarded this as a ‘settling down’ period.

Although Britain is a rich nation, its resources are shared unequally between groups which can breed mistrust (Morley, 2000). This was detected to some degree in some LTR who felt their needs in terms of health care and education were being marginalised in favour of the immigrants.















4.3 To what extent and in what ways are cultural differences perceived negatively amongst the community (both LTR and Polish migrants)?


There is no easy definition of what constitutes culture. To some it is based on particular characteristics or a minority language, for others it is the product of distinct beliefs and values, whilst yet others see it shaped by a separate historical process (Cantle, 2005). All of the above can create cultural differences, which fall into Tylor’s (1913 cited White 1959) classic definition of culture: ‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, art, belief, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society’ (p.227).

As stated in Chapter 2, understanding the underlying causes of when ‘cultural’ differences start to be regarded as a threat to others (Cantle,2005), is highly significant as this can negatively affect community cohesion. Considering what differences are perceived negatively amongst the community is important in determining the extent to which both LTR and Polish migrants have to adapt, and how easily respect, acceptance and tolerance can be established. Identities of both groups were prominent themes that came up in interviews when questions were asked surrounding the issue of cultural difference.


4.3a Welsh identity

The Welsh language is argued to be rooted in the identity of Wales (Fevre et al, 1999). Day (2002) observes that the in-migration of non-Welsh-speakers to rural Wales becomes a potential source of cultural and social tension. Llanybydder has a high proportion of Welsh speakers, thus, this language difference could be perceived a threat, as immigration may lower the proportion of Welsh-speakers in the community risking the already ‘dying language’ (BBC, 2012), this was highlighted in a BBC article:



“Meri Huws said the debate on the language’s future had to tackle ‘immigration and emigration”.

(BBC, 1 May 2007)

Meri Huws, the former chair of the Welsh Language board, highlights concern around the annual reduction of Welsh speakers stating that immigration of non-Welsh speakers needs to be ‘tackled’ to preserve the language.

However, the majority of LTR’s did not share this view and perceive the Polish migrants to have a negative, diluting effect on the Welsh language. Rather, most stated that it had not been affected at all, as most Polish children attend local Welsh schools and therefore were bilingual (Polish and Welsh), or trilingual (Polish/Welsh/English):

“There’s a Polish couple that live up the road there [from the bakery] their daughter goes to Llanybydder primary school and she speaks fluent Welsh, English and Polish. So, no I can’t say that it has affected our language”.

(Interviewee A, LTR)

This was further supported during interviews, as all children from Polish migrant families were able to speak Welsh well, and 8/9 Polish migrants interviewed were able to say Welsh phrases.

However, although language wasn’t an apparent concern, a prominent theme that came up was a notion of a ‘cultural takeover’, affecting the identity of the village itself, with many LTR’s stating that the area had now become known as ‘an area with a lot of Polish culture and settlements’ (Interviewee G), or ‘mini-Poland’ (Interviewee, L). Such perceptions were reiterated in LTR opinions, argued to be prominent due to the visible cultural changes within the village, such as street drinking/collecting, Polish shops replacing old businesses, Polish signs in public places such as the GP surgery, and the large Polish cohort that walk to and from Dunbia every day in high visibility jackets. Four participants viewed this negatively as they perceived an erosion of traditional ‘local identity’ by the presence of difference.

There was further acknowledgement of local identity decline in terms of participant reduction at the horse mart, carnival and bonfire night:

The main identity of Llanybydder was the horse mart and that has been declining due to no fault of the Polish, the fact is customers have been shrinking, people don’t have the money to buy horses or sheep anymore. Everything has just become way too unaffordable for the average person”.

(Interviewee E, LTR)

Some participants, like Interviewee E, did not attribute this identity decline negatively with Polish immigration but local economic issues. Furthermore, other LTR recognised Polish families taking part in village activities such as Halloween and the Christmas fair. Interviewee W (Polish migrant) went as far as stating that she and her family had ‘adopted the Welsh culture’.


4.3b Polish identity

The main cultural difference that was perceived negatively by most of the LTR was the issue of street collecting and drinking, already touched upon in Chapter 4.1. Kreft and Ritchie (2009) state that there is a tradition of communal drinking in Poland, with leisure time dominated by socialising and drinking. They further point out that Poles tend to drink in public spaces, rather than pubs, especially within rural areas. Interviewees cited problems with Poles drinking in public areas, in the park and on the main village street. The participants point out that most tend to be single men and regular drinkers. Others have commented on how these groups tend to shout comments at individuals when passing, which creates unease:


“A lot of the tension with the Polish is when they all collect in the streets and drink, and they’re quite loud. The Polish men are quite slimy, they bark, make comments when you walk past and you don’t know what they are saying, so it makes you feel really uneasy”.

(Interviewee L, LTR)

These cultural idiosyncrasies may influence this negative perception as this behaviour breaches Welsh customs and is therefore regarded with suspicion. The fact that it is single men who engage in street collection/drinking feels threatening to many female participants (see Chapter 4.1) with some now avoiding walking into the village after dark. However, two LTR said that the Polish meant no harm, it was their culture, and thus viewing this behaviour negatively was unfounded:

“It’s how they socialise, it’s what they do, if they’re not hurting me or you or anyone else why should we have a problem with it, because it’s not the norm?”.

(Interviewee H, LTR)

One Polish participant noted how fascinated and interested the locals were with the Polish culture, and how they usually enjoyed exchanging information about their different culture:

“I noticed that Welsh people are always asking about our culture, they are very interested. They love to know ‘oh, oh, oh’ [mimicking with hand expression]. So, I communicate about my culture and tradition and show my friends because you know this, and I’m always very interested about theirs because it’s new”.

(Interviewee T, Polish)

Hence, cultural differences are not universally perceived negatively amongst LTR and Polish migrants, as some displayed a true interest and curiosity, stimulating conversation and interaction. This evidence supports the development of positive and meaningful interactions, that are key to cohesion, analysed further in Chapter 4.4. Other LTR valued the diversity of Polish cuisine that immigration had brought to the village, with two Polish shops opening and a wall dedicated to Polish food in the local NISA:

“They have Polish food in the NISA, and from my point of view that is absolutely wonderful because I love cooking and I like experimenting with different foods from different places”.

(Interviewee D, LTR)

Moreover, a Polish shop owner (Interviewee W) highlighted that although most of her customers were eastern Europeans, occasionally a few locals came in and shopped there. However, some LTR viewed this as a visible way in which the Poles were changing the local identity, and remarks around ‘taking-over’ were reiterated.

There is a true mix of outlooks amongst LTR and Polish migrants on cultural difference. Surprisingly, the Welsh language was not perceived to be threatened by the influx of Poles to the area, and a few LTR stated that their arrival had brought the Welsh community ‘closer together’. However, what is clear is that this evidence contradicts Crowley et al. (2008) and Saggar et al. (2012) studies as cultural difference is perceived negatively amongst some of the LTR, as the Welsh identity of the village is perceived to be threatened by the arrival of Polish immigrants, who have established new local businesses, brought in a large workforce of economic migrants and ‘taken over’. Additionally, the Poles street drinking culture is seen negatively, due to its visibility threatening local identity and causing feelings of unease, which has placed significant barriers for cohesion to progress. For clarity, a summary (Table 4) of the perceived negative impacts of Polish immigration on local Welsh identity, raised by LTR interviewees   features below. On the other hand, some Polish participants celebrated cultural difference, participating in such events like Halloween, a British tradition, with some claiming to have ‘adopted the Welsh culture’. Other LTR appreciated the food culture brought over by the Poles, diversifying their markets, whilst others displayed keen interest in learning more about Polish traditions. Some participants stood on the side-line and did not express an opinion on this matter.



Table 4: LTR Perceived negative impacts of Polish immigration on Welsh Identity in Llanybydder raised during interviews.

No of interviewees who raised the issue No of interviewees who Perceived Negative impact on Welsh Identity Percentage of interviewees who reported negative impact (%)
Welsh Language 15 1 6.6
Polish shops 15 10 67
Street collecting 15 12 80
Dunbia workers 12 10 83
Polish Signage 5 3 60
Horse Mart 4 2 50
Polish food 3 1 33







4.4 To what extent have strong, positive relationships between LTR and Polish migrants been established in Llanybydder?

For a community to be cohesive, development of strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds is required, with successful integration key for cohesion to progress (HC,2008). NFC (2009) states that good, meaningful, relationships intrinsically have positive impacts on community cohesion and well-being, reduce prejudice, break down stereotypes and promote mutual respect and social mobility.

4.4a School interactions

Schools appreciate that promoting cohesion is fundamental to their role, and since 2007, such promotion became mandatory (DfCSF, 2007). Schools are at the heart of local communities, they are spaces that encourage community cohesion by allowing children to mix with those from different backgrounds, and encouraging positive engagement by focusing on what the children hold in common, and the importance of respecting diversity (DfCSF, 2007). From interviews, it was clear that strong and positive relationships had developed between some LTR and Polish school- children:

“Although I have left school now, most of my best friends are locals that I met in Lampeter secondary school.”
(Interviewee J, Polish)

Participants that had children attending the village primary school and participants that had attended the secondary school generally agreed that both groups did interact to some extent. Interviewee S emphasised strong relationships between LTR and Polish migrant children, with her children and Polish friends playing outside school hours and staying over at weekends. Many LTR voiced that learning Welsh contributed positively to such relationships, with Interviewee A (LTR) highlighting that this displayed effort to adopt local customs, aiding the breakdown of barriers to integration (IFLL, 2009). A senior primary school staff member stressed that most migrant children that arrive early on, develop strong Welsh language skills. Positive interactions between the parents of LTR and Polish migrant children also occurred:

“Paul and Denise are local residents, I get on with them really well. They are my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents.”

(Interviewee U, Polish)

This interviewee explained that this friendship grew from her daughter’s relationship with a LTR when at secondary school. She continued by saying how his family helped hers in the first few years of moving to Llanybydder, and they have stayed close friends ever since.

However, schools are also spaces where tensions can arise between children, stemming from problems internally and from external societal factors outside of their control (DfCSF, 2007) negatively effecting relationships:

“Yes definitely [encountered discrimination], I was bullied at school.  I think no matter what you will always get judged, not as much in a big city, but in a small community like Llanybydder, they know who you are, that your accent is different, all they’ve ever known is Welsh people, you get noticed straight away, and you’re just not liked at all. With age I learnt how to speak the language and I could just talk back to them then.”

 (Interviewee J, Polish migrant).

Bullying, is a deliberate form of exclusion, by isolating and rejecting an individual from a peer group (Rutter, 2015) which can have devastating effects on emotional well-being. As reported by Interviewee J, accent and nationality are indicators of difference in peer networks, often used to exclude migrant children in instances of bullying (Tyrell et al. 2013). The community’s lack of prior experience of immigration was suggested by Interviewee J and four others as a factor that may have caused discontent. Although there were only two reports during interview of migrant children being bullied in school, it is a common theme within literature, UNICEF (2016) found that migrant/refugee children (17.9%) were more at risk of bullying than other children (11.4%).

Thus, although, the majority of interviewees agreed that schools had positive impacts on community cohesion, a minority reported that they were also spaces where discrimination, prejudice and bullying occurred, hindering community development.


4.4b Community interaction

The sense that LTR and Polish migrants got on well together within the community was not felt consistently amongst all participants. The general view was that although there had not been any major conflicts between both social groups, there was apparent segregation and a lack of meaningful interaction:

“No, I don’t think it is at all, no [cohesive]. There’s a massive divide, it’s ‘us’ and ‘them’.”

(Interviewee L, LTR)

This division was commonly alluded to by interviewees, being perceived to be caused initially by:

  1. the socio-economic status of Polish migrants in Llanybydder; mainly single working men who immigrated to Llanybydder for its employment opportunities in the meat-plant, (Dunbia), (Kreft and Ritchie, 2009)
  2. the relatively low number of partners and children, due to the lack of complementary work for partners
  3. the dominance of a largely elderly/retired Welsh local population (Kreft and Ritchie, 2009)
  4. lack of opportunities for integration

However, although the initial motivation for Polish migrants to settle in Llanybydder was economic, over 80% now live with families (Jones and Lever, 2014). Some participants acknowledged this, stating that integration is ‘much better than it used to be’ as more families have settled, creating ‘more of a community’. However, old perceptions still persist for some LTR, indirectly colouring how individuals sense the impact of immigration on the community.

An important point raised by three Polish interviewees was the fragmentation within the Llanybydder Polish community. The Polish diaspora in Llanybydder is characterized by established families and STEM. Eade et al (2006) claims that hostility may fester between these groups, and this was voiced by a Polish migrant, with an established family in the village:

“It makes me so angry they don’t know English or Welsh at all. A girl that I knew was complaining that Dunbia didn’t have a translator for a while, I turned around and said to her ‘woah, who comes to whose country? Who asks for a job, so who should learn who’s language?’ Oh if you saw the look on her face [gasp].”

(Interviewee N, Polish)

Several Polish migrants raised this concern, stating that most Polish workers at Dunbia had no desire to learn the language. This language barrier was commonly perceived by the participants to hinder the development of strong relationships, and encouraged segregation.

Although this study does not show strong and positive relationships between all Polish migrants and LTR, there is indication of some meaningful interaction. The current study demonstrated that good relationships were more common between LTR and Polish migrant families, than LTR and STEM, possibly due to their differing motives for immigration. Thus, established Polish families with children, may have more interest in community activities and having closer ties with the community, whereas STEM aiming to return to Poland with money, may have no interest in societal integration. However, an increasingly held view amongst some of the participants was that in the last five years relations have improved due to the family-orientated nature of the Polish community, though perhaps more through acceptance by the locals than integration. Figure 3 summarises the varying perceptions of Polish integration by both groups, interestingly, over 30% of the Poles interviewed felt that they had fully integrated into the community, however, none of the LTR shared this view.

Figure 3: Percentage of LTR and Polish migrants who felt that overall, the Polish migrants had fully, partially or not integrated at all into the LLanybydder community. (Source: Authors own).

   LTR respondents n=15

Polish respondents n=9


Chapter 5: Conclusion

5.1 Concluding thoughts

This study examined the relationships between and within two social groups in a community situated in rural Wales; the long-term residents, and the Polish migrants, to aid a greater understanding into the community’s level of cohesion. This study aimed to capture not only the LTR perception of this immigration, but also those of the Polish migrants concerning their settlement in, adaptation to and engagement with the local community. This was attained by firstly understanding what common elements the community felt were needed for its cohesion, and secondly by examining relationships between the LTR and migrants, their sense of belonging, identity, tensions and interaction. This led to an overview of community cohesion in Llanybydder, but also provided a deeper insight into the relationships between immigration and community cohesion at a local, rural level, currently lacking within academic and government research.

The overarching question is, has Polish immigration affected the community cohesion of Llanybydder? This answer is not clear cut. There is an apparent divide between both ethnic groups, individuals tend to stay within boundaries that are safe and familiar to them, however, there has been evidence of clear and meaningful integration. The level of integration varied between and within certain groups. The following is a summation of the key research findings categorised into groups.

5.1a Established families

This study clearly demonstrated that higher integration and cohesion was apparent between established families of both groups with school age children, arguably due to shared values and life prospects. Although schools were cited as areas where tensions could arise between LTR and migrants, they mainly encouraged positive interactions, between children from different backgrounds, and also between LTR and Polish parents, the latter being previously absent from the community. Furthermore, young Polish children were commonly perceived by the LTR as making a positive contribution to the community, as a) the majority attended the local primary school, preventing its closure and b) the Polish children became fluent in Welsh, helping to preserve the language. The latter was seen as a tool for integration, as migrant children could readily communicate with local born children whose first language was Welsh, and this was appreciated by older LTR as it displayed an effort to adapt to local customs.

5.1b Short-term economic migrants

On the other end of the cohesion spectrum are the STEM, the majority being single men, termed the ‘Dunbia workforce’ by the community. The STEM were perceived by the LTR and Polish migrants as the group with the lowest level of integration within the local community. Although this group was largely absent from this research (due to recruitment issues), all participants stated that this group was evidently segregated from the rest of the community. The majority of the tensions and negative perceptions that were raised during interview by the LTR were associated with this group, concerning issues of street collecting/drinking, perceived employment competition, and weakening of the local Welsh identity. The lack of ability or effort to learn English or Welsh was seen as a hindrance to integration, coupled with the perceived dissimilar life goals, with many Polish migrants claiming that STEM would not settle in Llanybydder, but return to Poland.

5.1c Younger population

The younger population 18-24 (excluding STEM) generally had a lower sense of belonging and attachment to the area than other residents, and although both younger LTR and Polish migrants displayed integration, most felt ‘out of place’. However, although a few LTR voiced concerns around a ‘cultural takeover’, this lower level of cohesion was not principally related to immigration dynamics, but to the view that the village had little to offer them socially and economically. Thus, providing an alternative determinant of cohesion, and this was the issue of rurality.




5.1d Older population

All but one of the four LTR interviewees older than forty-five, expressed views that had a negative slant towards the Polish migrants. This group was the least receptive of the migrants with little evidence of strong positive relationships between these two groups. This appeared to be attributed to the common perception of ‘cultural takeover’. The older LTR had lived in the area the longest, and regarded the recent, rapid changes within LLanybydder as a threat to local identity and cohesion. The common theme of ‘otherness’ revealed in this study was touched upon by all groups (both LTR and migrants), but was most strongly upheld by the older LTR.


5.1e Complexity of relationships

For clarity, the degree of cohesion has been assigned to different social/age groups, however this is somewhat simplistic. Human relationships by their nature are complex and multi-dimensional, attitudes are shaped by lived experiences of individuals, their knowledge and backgrounds. Thus, there have been exceptions between and within these groups, for example one older LTR displayed high levels of integration with the Polish community, and held positive attitudes towards the influx.

5.2 Limitation of study and further research

Although ethical considerations and triangulation techniques were used to ensure this study was conducted with academic rigour, bias is present during any study particularly during qualitative research. In addition to low sample numbers, a further limitation was the lack of representation from the STEM and low-income LTR. To take this research further, a greater representation of these groups would be needed. Additionally, focus groups would be beneficial in gaining a deeper insight into the dynamic interplay between LTR and Polish migrants in a certain setting.

To conclude, community dynamics and level of cohesion in Llanybydder have been affected by Polish immigration post-2004, varying in extent between different groups. However, the community as a whole is far from the ‘parallel lives’ crisis, described in the Cantle report (2005). What is questionable, however, is the significance of the strong, positive relationships between groups, regarded as key to community cohesion by the latest formal definition (HC, 2008) in relation to the Llanybydder community. This type of relationship between the LTR and migrant groups was infrequently reported. Although, the LLanybydder community may have become less cohesive than previously since Polish immigration, the majority of the interviewees seemed reasonably satisfied with their lives, with LTR and Polish migrants generally living together peaceably. Indeed, none of the interviewees talked very passionately about any of the issues raised regarding perceived negative impacts of immigration on community cohesion. Rather, the tenor of the responses was more akin to the level of intensity encountered for the usual grumbles that exist within any community. However, some of the Polish had experienced discriminatory remarks immediately post-Brexit. Whether this will persist resulting in future weakening of community cohesion in Llanybydder remains to be seen.












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Appendix 1

Document analysis


Source Headline Summary
The Telegraph


‘Immigrants create overcrowding and fuel tensions, report finds’ Findings: immigrants were placing strain on public services, leading to longer GP waiting times, overcrowding school classes and anti-social behaviour. Proper controls were said to be paramount to prevent damaging of communities.
The Telegraph


‘Migration pressure on schools revealed’ Schools said to be under huge pressure from EU migration, with the highest number of children arriving from Poland. Politicians for the leave campaign used this issue, stating that it would only get worse if Turkey joined.


‘Migrant and refugee children face higher rates of bullying’ Bias-based bullying to migrant children is very common due to a peer belonging to a specific social or ethnic group. Research found that classmates justified bullying migrant children stating that they ‘deserved it’. The blog went on to say how negative perceptions and prejudice towards immigrants at the local level needed to be addressed to tackle this issue.

Summary of key reports coded:

Date Published by Title Summary
2001 The Home Office Community Cohesion: A report of the independent review team Report set out after the ‘race riots’ 2001 to visit the areas affected and find out factors that lay behind the disturbances. Physical segregation of housing estates and a surprisingly high depth of polarisation in towns. ‘Parallel lives’ and overall findings placed an urgent need to promote community cohesion in Great Britain.
2002 Local Government Association Guidance on Community Cohesion This report stressed the importance of the Local Authorities in the agenda, to ensure cohesive societies at the local level.
2008 The House of Commons Community Cohesion and Migration: Tenth Report of Session 2007-2008 Examined the effects of migration on community cohesion. Found that cohesion cannot be improved without addressing public anxiety. Stressed that the government needs to take immediate action to address these concerns to prevent tensions from leading to disturbances.
2010 Scottish Government Factors Influencing Rural Migration Decisions Identifies that main push factors that influence young people to move from rural areas are; employment, higher education, housing, desire for independence, leisure facilities shops and services and perceptions.

Appendix 2

Code table

Open coding Selective coding
  • Identifying Llanybydder as home
  • Different norms breaching attachment
  • Wanting to move away
                   Attachment to place
  • Participating in community activities
  • Not feeling part of the community
  • Being ‘pushed’ out of work
  • Feeling ‘taken-over’
  • Longer GP waiting times
  • Percieved misuse of NHS
  • Polish health care work force
                         Health care
  • Draining school budget
  • Immigration preventing closure
  • Increased competition for school places
                         Local school
  • Pub fights
  • Pace of change
                      Other tensions
  • Welsh language dying
  • Visible cultural changes destroying local identity
  • ‘mini-poland’
  • Horse mart and carnival participation decline
  • Interest in learning about one another’s culture
                         Welsh identity
  • Collecting in the street drinking
  • Cultural idosyncrasies
  • Interest in learning about one another’s culture
  • Polish shops
  • Dunbia workforce
  • Polish signs
                           Polish identity

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Appendix 4

Data table of interviewee respondents

Respondent Gender Age Duration of residence LTR/Polish Interview duration Date of interview
A Female 48 Since birth LTR 30 minutes 3/11/2016
B Female 21 Since birth LTR 27 minutes 4/11/2016
C Female 32 Since birth LTR 26 minutes 4/11/2016
D Male 58 27 years LTR 60 minutes 3/11/2016
E Female 23 15 years LTR 20 minutes 4/11/2016
F Male 24 Since birth LTR 25 minutes 26/11/2016
G Female 54 Since birth LTR 34 minutes 5/11/2016
H Male 30 16 years LTR 51 minutes 4/11/2016
I Female 21 Since birth LTR 22 minutes 20/12/2016
J Female 21 11 years Polish 35 minutes 29/10/2016
K Female 21 Since birth LTR 22 minutes 5/11/2016
L Female 20 15 years LTR 30 minutes 26/11/2016
M Female 52 10 years Polish 31 minutes 26/11/2016
N Female 38 11 years Polish 38 minutes 24/11/2016
O Male 39 11 years Polish 21 minutes 24/11/2016
P Male 38 Since birth LTR 34 minutes 28/11/2016
Q Male 23 12 years Polish 29 minutes 5/11/2016
R Male 28 15 years LTR 23 minutes 28/11/2016
S Female 56 3 years Polish 33 minutes 27/11/2016
T Female 43 9 years Polish 41 minutes 28/11/2016
U Female 45 11 years Polish 43 minutes 28/11/2016
V Female 40 Since birth LTR 25 minutes 4/11/2016
W Male 34 6 years Polish 21 minutes 3/11/2016
X Female 25 Since birth LTR 29 minutes 4/11/2016

Appendix 5

Participant consent form:


Image result for manchester university logoInformation Sheet

‘Everyday living in Llanybydder’

You are being invited to take part in a research study. Before you decide whether to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully:

The aim of this research is to find out how cohesive Llanybydder’s community is, in light of recent demographic and political change. It focuses on everyday living; what it is like to live/work in Llanybydder. It inquiries how ‘community cohesion’ is interpreted and understood amongst interviewees, and what factors are important for a ‘cohesive society’. Moreover, it questions whether the community has changed over the last ten years since the influx of immigrants to the area.

You have been chosen to take part in the study as you live in or nearby Llanybydder and therefore are essential to my study. Twenty-five individuals will be asked to participate.

It is up to you to decide whether to take part. If you do decide to take part, you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form. If you decide to take part, you are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason

I will be using interviews as my data collection method, they will include the topics of; what it is like to live in Llanybydder, community relationships, immigration and Brexit. The interviews will take 30-45 minutes.

The benefits of this study are that you will help in furthering a greater understanding of a topical issue which will be highly regarded due to its current relevancy to political debate. Moreover, this data will be the first of its kind in this area, and thus you will be contributing to research that has not been done before.

All information collected about the individual will be kept strictly confidential. Privacy and anonymity will be ensured in the collection and storage of research material. This data is used for my BA (hons) Geography dissertation and therefore will not be published. However, if you wish to have a copy of the research I am more than happy to send it over to you.

The research has been approved by The University of Manchester’s Ethics Committee.

Image result for manchester university logoCONSENT FORM

  1. I confirm that I have read and understand the information sheet for the above study and have had the opportunity to ask questions.
  1. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time, without giving reason.
3.              I agree to take part in the above study.

Name of Participant    Date    Signature

Name of Researcher    Date    Signature

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