SSAMIS logo‌Experiences of Social Security and Prospects for Long Term Settlement in Scotland amongst Migrants from Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union.

This four year ESRC-funded research project is a collaboration between the University of Glasgow and the University of Swansea. Our project prioritises the (often hidden) migrant voice in both its theoretical and empirical approach. It aims to study perspectives and experiences of 'social security' amongst migrants from Central Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union in Scotland. It began in November 2013 and will run for four years.


The UK has seen new flows of migration coming from Central Eastern Europe and other parts of the former 'Soviet bloc', particularly since EU accession processes in 2004 and 2007. Scotland, the focus for this research, presents a particularly interesting and distinctive case due to the specifics of its economic and demographic situation, the political discussion taking place of the need for migration, and the division of responsibilities between UK and Scottish parliaments and local authorities for migration. Whilst both the Scottish Executive and many local authorities have expressed a wish to attract and retain migrant workers, challenges have also been highlighted in academic and policy oriented research relating to a demand for and adequacy of service provision. Meanwhile the experiences and perspectives of migrants themselves remain little understood.

The project prioritises this often hidden migrant voice in both its theoretical and empirical approach. It aims to study perspectives and experiences of 'social security' amongst migrants from Central Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union in Scotland. We use 'social security' in a holistic sense to mean the ways in which migrants are able to make themselves socially, economically, personally and culturally secure in a new environment and their strategies for dealing with every day risks.

Aims and scope

  • Over the course of the project we will examine the ways in which migrants' experiences and perspectives on 'social security' affect their longer term intentions regarding settlement in Scotland, whether this is a decision to stay, or a decision to move elsewhere.
  • The project seeks to explore the ways in which migrants deal with everyday risks including those associated with migration and settlement and the processes by which they are able to make themselves socially, economically, personally and culturally secure in a new environment.
  • Through a long-term and deep engagement with migrant communities, the project will deliver significant new and original empirical data. It will also focus on practical outcomes and policy relevance, in particular during a participatory action research (PAR) phase.
  • The project will pay attention to various forms of diversity, both in terms of the migrants themselves and their location in Scotland.
  • The research will be conducted in eight locations in Scotland: two cities (Glasgow and Aberdeen) two medium-sized towns (Peterhead and Arbroath) and four more remote rural locations in Aberdeenshire and Angus.

Research questions

In reflection of the aims and scope, the research will seek answers to the following questions:

  • What is the range and combination of state and non-state structures, formal organisations and informal networks, public and private resources which migrants draw upon in order to mitigate risk and produce forms of ‘social security’?
  • To what extent are migrant experiences and strategies relating to ‘social security’ shaped by emotional as well as material aspects of security and how do these relate to longer term intentions regarding settlement?
  • How are migrant experiences and strategies relating to ‘social security’ and longer term intentions regarding settlement shaped by location and geographical scale?
  • How are migrant experiences and strategies relating to ‘social security’ and their longer term intentions regarding settlement shaped by socio-economic diversity including the impacts of gender, class (occupation, education, professional history), citizenship, ethnicity, country of origin, language, migrant status, age?
  • How can collaborations between a range of actors (migrants, policy makers, service providers) lead to improvements in policy responses and forms of service provision at local, regional and national levels in order to better accommodate migrants’ social security needs in a range of locations across Scotland?

Project phases and methodology

Fieldwork will be conducted over a two-and-a-half year period between May 2014 and October 2016 and will incorporate 3 incremental phases of research. Prior to this a preparatory phase will incorporate a period of pilot research.

Preparatory Phase (November 2013 – May 2014)

This phase lays the ground work for the project going forward through a combination of:

  • Media, Policy and Political Discourse Analysis: Analysis of media, policy and political discourse at local, regional and national levels.
  • Pilot research: 1-2 weeks of pilot research will be conducted in each field site.

Phase 1 Fieldwork (June 2014 – June 2015)

During this phase intensive fieldwork will be conducted in each of eight field sites incorporating the following methods:

  • Ethnographic Observation: Researchers will be immersed in the contexts where migrants live, work and socialise. This will build up a picture of migrants’ social security practices, relationships and strategies as part of their daily lives.
  • In-depth Interviews: In-depth interviews will be conducted with migrants seeking a balance within the study as a whole of gender, class, age, country of origin and sectors of employment.
  • Photo/Video Diaries: Following on from the in-depth interviews, a subset of migrants will be asked to keep photo/video diaries.
  • This method will allow migrants to conduct investigation themselves, bring together emotional, affective and physical dimensions of their perspectives on social security and settlement and will offer them tools for expressing everyday.
  • ‘Expert’ Interviews: Expert interviews will be conducted with policy-makers, service providers, employers, representatives of NGOs and other key figures.

Phase 2: Participatory Action Research (PAR) (September 2015 – October 2016)

This phase will focus on a process of participatory action research through which members of 4 action research sets will develop participatory initiatives, reflect upon and evaluate the opportunities and challenges involved in working collaboratively.

  • Community consultations: 4 community consultation workshops will bring together migrants, policy-makers, service providers, representatives of NGOs etc. Participants will be given space and support to identify a particular issue of concern around which a project idea(s) can be developed by groups coming together as action research sets.
  • Participatory initiatives: Project ideas identified during the community consultation workshops will be further investigated and developed through ongoing collaboration between the researchers and members of the action research sets. Project researchers will work with these action research sets, maintaining regular contact, helping to facilitate the development of the proposed projects.

Outputs and Dissemination

‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Throughout the project a range of dissemination activities aimed at both academic and policy/practice audiences will be developed. Links to both academic and policy/practice related publications and outputs will appear on this site in due course.

Preliminary outputs

Following Phase 1, as well as academic presentations and articles Interim reports and policy/practice focused papers will be prepared and disseminated to and via knowledge exchange partners and other stakeholders.

The project website will be further developed to host preliminary outputs and findings and to reflect migrant voices and perspectives.


Reports, publications and events for policy and practice

SSAMIS Interim Report January 2016

Scottish Government Inquiry on Age and Social Isolation


Working Papers and Presentations

Presentation for SEALCC - migrant realities and schooling

Presentation: The Importance and Role of Language

Presentation: Rural Experiences and Settlement

Presentation: Emerging Participatory Action Research Initiatives

Presentation: Comparing the Experiences of Poles to other EE Migrants

Presentation: Preliminary Findings of SSAMIS Project

Presentation: The SSAMIS Project



Dissemination events and publications (November 2016 – October 2017)

  • In November 2016 a large workshop event will be held, which will prioritise input from each action research set.
  • This will provide opportunities for reporting on the projects, sharing evaluations of the process and planning for future collaboration.
  • Smaller dissemination workshops for a range of stakeholders (e.g. Local Authorities, NGOs, service providers etc.) will be held.
  • A final project event will be held in September/October 2017. This will launch the final report and present project outcomes. It will bring together the widest possible range of stakeholders and academic experts both those directly involved in the project and others from across Scotland, the UK and Europe interested in its outcomes and potential for replication.


Our staff

Principal Investigator (PI)

Co-Investigators (Co-Is)


Project administrator

Contact us

If you would like any further details about the project, please contact Bernadette Laffey (Project Administrator).