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Valentin Poponete

Valentin Poponete

PhD Candidate



The eastward enlargement of the European Union and especially the liberalization of the West European labour markets for East Europeans remain controversial subjects insufficiently addressed by social research. Although social capital embedded in immigrants’ social networks is recognized as a driving engine of labour migration flows, this concept was until recently mainly used in U.S. immigration research, and tended to focus on the role of ethnic networks without adequately considering the complexity of ties immigrants build in the host country. Moreover, while scholars agree that immigrants’ social networks influence the implementation of immigration policies, research fails to clearly explain why immigrant networks behave the way they do when policy changes. This research addresses these issues and intends to understand the way immigrants’ social capital emerges, accumulates and changes over time in a new immigration destination in a context of immigration policy change. Specifically, in my project, I will be looking at the conditions that favor either more ethnic networks or bridging networks with the local population, and at the way immigration policy changes impact immigrants’ accumulation of social capital. I will do this by comparing the patterns of accumulation and change of social capital of Romanian immigrants in the Flanders and Wallonia regions of Belgium. I argue that immigrants’ human capital and the language proximity between the home country and the immigration destination influence the type of networks immigrants build and the way these networks are affected by immigration policy changes. In conclusion, by closely examining the mechanisms of immigrants’ social capital accumulation and change, my project intends to shed more light on the way it influences their integration in the host country.