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Communion is the need to establish and maintain positive relationships with people. Agency is the need to achieve goals and to emphasize one’s own values. These concepts are commonly found in different cultures, their universal presence has given them the title of the “Big Two”. The research conducted by cooperating teams from SWPS University and the University of Koblenz-Landau will contribute to the understanding of the dimension of the “Big Two”.




The comparative study of Poles and Lithuanians in the context of Brexit



Research UnitUNI SWPS english
Grant AmountPLN 955,920
Funding SourceNCN logo poziom en2

Duration of Research Project: October 2018 – September 2021


Since the 2004 European Union's enlargement, the mobility of young Poles and Lithuanians has significantly increased. For many of them, Great Britain has become a new home. The situation suddenly changed in June 2016, when the Brexit Referendum results were announced. Researchers from SWPS University and from the Public Policy and Management Institute in Lithuania will research the types of risks that young migrants from Poland and Lithuania may face as a result of Great Britain leaving the EU.

Project Outline

This project will be an interdisciplinary study examining risks faced by young (19 to 34 years of age) Polish and Lithuanian migrants, who migrated to the UK since the 2004 EU enlargement, after the announcement of the results of Brexit Referendum. Moreover, the researchers will analyze the impact of subsequent Brexit consequences on the lives of Poles and Lithuanians, with particular emphasis on changes in the patterns of entering adulthood. The objectives of the project correspond to three main concepts: social anchoring, strategies and risks. The study aim to comparatively asses social anchoring of young Poles and Lithuanians in Great Britain, as well as to compare migrating youth from Poland and Lithuania (movers) with their peers who stayed in their country of origin (stayers). In addition, the project aim to analyze and compare trends in the latest return migration of young Poles and Lithuanians, and if possible to analyze the diversity of migratory behaviors of ethnic Poles and Lithuanians and ethnic Lithuanians from Poland staying in the UK.

The CEEYouth project assumes that the process of Brexit will force people into an institutional limbo creating uncertainty and tensions felt not only by the migrants themselves, but also by their families and friends in Poland and Lithuania, which may have significant influence on the process of their social anchorage. Other possible Brexit effects may include: the revision of ownership rights in the UK and the decrease of migrants’ trust in education, health care and the welfare state as systems guaranteeing basic needs. Moreover, the project assumes the disruption of the process of human capital accumulation (as a compensation for post-communism societies), decrease of self-esteem and self-confidence of migrants, as well as closing a way back to the country of origin to Lithuanians who were granted British citizenship.

Researchers identified some practical research assumptions according to which young migrants will use all institutional instruments, including applying for the status of a resident or citizenship, to stay in the UK for as long as possible. Migrants will also increase their efforts in the economic sphere to avoid ‘drifting’ in the labor market and will strive to improve their competences and raise their qualifications. In addition, young migrants may begin to formalize mixed partnerships or they may decide to return to the country of their origin or to a country other than the sending country.

CEEYouth [word play: see you] is a unique comparative research project on young Polish and Lithuanian migrants – two most mobile societies after the EU enlargement in May 2004. This project is a kind of social movie, which we will try to make using different research methods, such as asynchronous interviews and quantitative analyses, where we follow the trajectories of people, who emigrated to the UK. This project is a gift for the upcoming 15th Anniversary of Polish and Lithuanian membership of the EU.

Associate Professor Izabela Grabowska, Principal Investigator

Research Methods

The study will be conducted with a mix-methods approach. Researchers will conduct a comparative analysis of data mainly from Labor Force Survey, but also from other available sources. During the project the researchers will use an innovative qualitative research based on asynchronous interviews with 50 migrants for the period of two years. The interview will allow to collect data in a dynamic and longitudinal perspective. Another research method will be a Computer Assisted Web Interview (CAWI) conducted in native languages of migrants. This survey will allow researchers to reach young migrants from Poland and Lithuania who live in Great Britain, as well as the recent return migrants. The study involves a total of 600 interviews, 300 with migrants from Poland and Lithuania, of which 50 to 100 return migrants are to be included in the sample.

Application of Results

This study examines social changes in the making, as the consequences of the Brexit Referendum vote are still unraveling. Studies of the impact of the Referendum on the lives of young Poles and Lithuanians appear for the first time. The internationally published project results will allow to understand the actions taken by young migrants and will help to predict their life transitions, as well as develop new interdisciplinary fields of youth and migration studies.

Researchers - Polish Team

258 izabela grabowska

 Associate Professor

Izabela Grabowska

Principal Investigator
Sociologist and economist, specializing in research on employment market

Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek

 Assistant Professor

Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek

 researcher team member

agnieszka trąbka


Agnieszka Trąbka


olga czeranowska


Olga Czeranowska

post-doctoral researcher


258 justyna sarnowska


Justyna Sarnowska

doctoral candidate
research team member



Iga Wermińska-Wiśnicka

collaborator - recipient of research scholarship

dominika winogrodzka


Dominika Winogrodzka

doctoral candidate

Researchers - Lithuenian Team

Dr Dovilė Jonavičienė – Leader of the Lithuanian team
Dr Egidijus Barcevičius – Researcher
Irma Budginaitė-Mačkinė – Researcher
Luka Klimavičiūtė – Research team member
Justė Vežikauskaitė – Research team member

External Experts

Dr Violetta Parutis – University of Essex
Prof. Louise Ryan – University of Sheffield
Prof.Aleksandra Grzymala-Kazłowska – University of Warsaw


  • Blachnicka-Ciacek, D. Grabowska I., Hekiert D., Pustulka P., Sarnowska J., Trąbka A., Werminska-Wisnicka I., Barcevicius E., Budginaite-Mackine I., Jonaviciene D., Klimaviciute L., Vezikauskaite J., Parutis, V. (2019). The comparative study of young migrants from Poland and Lithuania in the context of Brexit. Combining public statistics, web survey and asynchronous interviewing, Warsaw: SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Youth Working Papers, 10/2019, ISSN: 2543-5213. Doi: 10.23809/7.
  • Trąbka, A, Pustułka P. (2020) Bees & butterflies: Polish migrants’ social anchoring, mobility and risks post-Brexit, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Online First, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1 Grabowska I. (2020). The 2004 EU enlargement as an outcome of public policies: The impact of intra-EU mobility on Central and Eastern European sending countries. Social Policy and Society, 1-17. doi:10.1017/S147474642000024X
  • Klimavičiūtė L., Parutis V., Jonavičienė D., Karolak M., Wermińska-Wiśnicka I. The Impact of Brexit on Young Poles and Lithuanians in the UK: Reinforced Temporariness of Migration Decisions. Central Eastern European Migration Review, 127-142. doi: 10.17467/ceemr.2020.06
  • Trąbka A., Wermińska-Wiśnicka I. (2020), Niejednoznaczny wpływ Brexitu na życie młodych Polaków w Wielkiej Brytanii, Studia Migracyjne – Przegląd Polonijny, 4 (178): 49–70. DOI: 10.4467/25444972SMPP.20.038.12775 Blachnicka-Ciacek D., Trąbka A., Budginaite-Mackine I., Parutis V., Pustulka P. (2021), Do I deserve to belong? Migrants' perspectives on the debate of deservingness and belonging, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1932444
  • Czeranowska O., Wermińska-Wiśnicka I. (2021) Nostalgiczne powroty Polaków i Litwinów w kontekście brexitu i pandemii. Nota badawcza na podstawie wyników sondażu porównawczego na próbie litewskich oraz polskich migrantów powracających z Wielkiej Brytanii [in:] Książka pokonferencyjna "Zmiana społeczna w XXI wieku", IFiS PAN
  • Grabowska I., Jastrzebowska A. (in press). Migration and the Transfer of Informal Human Capital. Insights from Central Europe and Mexico. London: Routledge.

PDF icon25px    Detailed list of publications and conferences »

Project Coordination

Office for Research

Director: Piotr Matejek
tel. +48 22 517 99 21
e-mail: badania@swps.edu.pl
Monday to Friday: 9.00-16.00


SWPS University
Chodakowska 19/31
03-815 Warsaw
rooms 408, 409, 410



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