Boundary work in the UK: identity discourses and practices of Latvian migrants


This article explores the identity formation of Latvian migrants who have moved to the United Kingdom in large numbers over the last 20 years. Latvians are forced to reconfigure their cultural and social belonging in the new multicultural society. Identity formation is seen in this article as boundary work that contingently excludes and includes various cultures and social positions. The article is based on semi-structured interviews and cross-sectional surveys. By combining qualitative and quantitative data, the article focuses on transnational positioning and in-group relations of Latvian migrants. Likewise, relations with migrants from other countries and the imagined locals, or ‘genuine Englishmen,’ are examined in the light of boundary-making. The results, among other things, illustrate how structurally embedded discourses and practices help Latvians rationalize the maintenance and the crossing of symbolic boundaries.