Anti-Polish migrant moral panic in the UK: Rethinking employment insecurities and moral regulation

Ian Fitzgerald, Rafal Smoczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines British societal reactions to Polish migrant workers in the context of recent developments in the moral panic concept. It is informed by the sociology of moral regulation and risk governance studies. Given the multi-mediated nature of contemporary moral panics and in contrast to the conventional scholarship's analysis focusing on newspaper coverage this paper is based on Polish migrants' self reported experiences. Moral panic claims of Polish workers “taking British jobs” and “abusing British social benefits” as perceived by respondents are analysed in line with Sean Hier's conceptualizations of the interplay between individualised risks management and moral panic claims-making which manifest conflictual sites of the contemporary neo-liberal project of prudentialism. It will be argued that an anti-Polish migrant campaign in Britain after 2004 which dramatised Polish migrants as “stealing the jobs” of the native population cannot be properly analysed as an irrational ethnic bias or an elite-engineering panic but rather is an expression of a destabilising effects of the employment insecurities affecting labour markets in Western risk societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-361
JournalCzech Sociological Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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