Agency of Migrant youth in hostile sociopolitical environments: Case studies from Central Eastern Europe

April 2023

Arendas, Zsuzsanna, Agnieszka Trąbka, Vera Messing, Marta Jadviga Pietrusińska, and Dominika Winogrodzka. 2023. "Agency of Migrant Youth in Hostile Sociopolitical Environments: Case Studies from Central Eastern Europe" Social Sciences 12, no. 4: 210.

This paper compares the integration of third-country youth in Poland and Hungary in two Central Eastern European contexts characterized by a hostile sociopolitical environment for migrants, right-wing policies, illiberalism, and regression in various related policy areas. Our article is based on a three-year EU-funded research project that investigated the integration of migrant youth in precarious circumstances (MIMY). It uses data from qualitative interviews conducted with migrant youth and thus focuses on the migrant’s perspective while exploring how coping and navigating such hostile environments occurs. The analysis is based on the concept of migrant agency in extremely difficult and complex sociopolitical situations. Our findings highlight the particular importance of the latter in these hostile environments. We argue that while the withdrawal of the state from integration has created difficult contexts for migrant youth, they exhibit different forms of agency, enabling them to adapt to opportunity structures. While these forms of agency are important and real, the structural constraints imposed by hostile states’ anti-immigration and anti-integration attitudes significantly limit migrants’ options for coping with everyday life.