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SWPS University - Main page

Socialization agents shaping transnational transitions of migrant children

CHILDTRANSocialization agents shaping transnational transitions and multi-scalar belonging of migrant children in Poland

principal investigator / project leader
Anzhela Popyk
Ph.D. / Assistant Professor


Full bio
project value: PLN 95,879
funding source: National Science Center
discipline: social sciences
location: Warsaw
duration: 2020 2021 2022

Over the past several years, the number of migrants from various countries have been arriving and settling in Poland. Migrant children must adjust to new circumstances, transition from culture to culture, and socialize with new friends in foreign schools. This study investigates how the transition process happens and who are “socialization agents” facilitating this process.

Project objectives

The primary goal of the CHILDTRAN project is to investigate how migrant children adapt to the new life in the receiving countries. In particular we will study what happens when children from various countries arrive in Poland, start school, and begin to form attachment and belongingness in this country. Specifically, the project looks at major paths and characteristics of what is called ‘transnational transitions’ and denotes transitioning from home to school in a foreign, bi/multicultural setting. This process contributes to the formation of sense of belonging in migrant children in Poland. We will investigate what individuals and institutions (the so-called ‘socialization agents’) play a role in these processes.

The study will fill a research gap concerning cross-border experiences of migrant children and their socialization in Poland. For this purpose, we will examine the impact of family, school, peers, religion, and media on migrant children and their experience of educational transitions in a transnational context.


We will use a so-called “mosaic approach” which is rooted in the child-centered approach. We will select the most valid techniques of the qualitative research methods and bring them together to apply in this research project. Consequently, a range of methods will be utilized for listening to school-aged children, who have already experienced transnational transitions. The selected techniques entail semi-structured interviews based on children’s drawings and photo elicitation, i.e. storytelling based on the prepared photos.

This has the power to offer a nuanced understanding of the children’s experience and offers an advantage as compared to other techniques by “giving voice” to children who are treated as fully-fledged research partners.

We will conduct interviews with migrant children (primary school students 7-12 years old) who arrived in Poland from various countries and have different backgrounds and experience. Prior to talking with the children, we will interview their parents to learn more about the children’s pre and post migration experience. In total, 20 interviews with migrant children and 20 with their parents will be conducted.

Practical applications of results

The issues concerning migrant children in Poland have become quite significant more over the last decade due to the mass-migration processes. So far, the main topics of research have focused on macro-level topics, such as changes in the national curriculum and readiness of schools and educators to work with multicultural groups of children. Fewer studies concentrate on mixed marriages and bi/multilingual children, while researchers often focus on the designated ethnic groups of migrants, for exam Vietnamese, Chechen, Roma or Ukrainian. Our project will be more broad as it will focus on interviewing children from various ethnic groups, using cross-comparative and child-centric approaches.

By evaluating various paths and characteristics of the migrant children’s backgrounds and experience, we will present models of the migrant children’s transnational transitions in Poland.

The project will shed light on the ways children with different social, cultural and economic capital, experience cross-border transitions and socialization process in Poland. Furthermore, the study will indicate how immigrant children in Poland deal with and adapt to the change of place and environment, break up of family and friendship ties, and how this experience impacts their sense of belonging in the receiving countries.


The project resulted in the following publications:

Popyk, A. Polish school in the eyes of migrant children. From socialization to multicultural education, Published in Migration Studies Review of Polish Diaspora (SMPP), (2023).

Popyk, A. "The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Child-Parent-Teacher Triad Functioning and Migrant Children’s Distance Learning in Poland", in The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Distance Learning, edited by Burgsteiner and Krammer, published by the University College of Teacher Education at Styria, Graz (2022).

Popyk, A., Anchors and Thresholds in the Formation of a Transnational Sense of Belonging of Migrant Children in Poland, in Children's Geographies, (2022).

Popyk, A., Pustułka, P., Educational Disadvantages During COVID-19 Pandemic Faced by Migrant Schoolchildren in Poland, Journal of International Migration and Integration, (2022).

Popyk, A. , Home as a mixture of spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic: The case of migrant families in Poland, in Culture & Society, (2021).

Popyk, A., Social capital and agency in the peer socialization strategies of migrant children in Poland, in Migration Studies Review of Polish Diaspora (SMPP), (2021).

Popyk, A. CHILDTRAN: The Role of Transnational transitions and Formation of Sense of Belonging of Migrant Children in Poland. Report. in Youth Working Papers Nr 3/2021 Warsaw: SWPS University – Youth Research Center. (2021)

Popyk, A., Pustułka, P., Transnational communication between children and grandparents during the COVID-19 lockdown: The case of migrant children in Poland. in the Journal of Family Communication, (2021)

Popyk A. The Impact of Distance Learning on the Social Practices of Schoolchildren During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Reconstructing values of Migrant Children in Poland, in European Societies, (2020).

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