This article focuses on how newcomers form social relations when settling in the UK, and the role of these relations in regards to their sense of belonging as well as access to resources that support integration. By bringing together the concept of social integration with scholarship on embedding and sociabilities of emplacement, the article demonstrates how a combination of serendipitous encounters, ‘crucial acquaintances’ and more enduring friendships with other migrants, co-ethnics and members of the majority population support migrants’ settlement. Drawing on two qualitative studies on migrant settlement, it shows the importance of social relations with other migrants during settlement, and subsequently critically reflects on how the notion of ‘bridging social capital’ has been used in policy discourse. By doing so, the article contends that the notion of ‘integration’ needs to reflect the social ‘unit’ into which migrants are supposed to integrate.
- social capital