UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Undocumented migrants and ethnic enclave employers

Title details

SN: 851487
Title: Undocumented migrants and ethnic enclave employers
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-851487
Depositor: Alice Bloch, University of Manchester
Principal investigator(s): Alice Bloch, University of Manchester
Sponsor(s): ESRC
Grant number: ES/I037490/2
Other acknowledgements: Leena Kumarappan


The citation for this study is:

Alice Bloch, University of Manchester. (2016). Undocumented migrants and ethnic enclave employers. Data catalogue. UK Data Service. SN: 851487,

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Subject Categories

Employment and labour


Abstract copyright data collection owner.

The research collected qualitative interview data from 55 undocumented migrants and 24 ethnic enclave employers from Bangladeshi, Chinese, Turkish (including Kurds from Turkey and Northern Cypriots) communities who were living in London. The three groups were selected for their sizeable presence among London’s minority ethnic communities but also their migration histories, reasons for migration and pathways to the UK have been different, providing the variance of experiences that we were looking for in the study. The fieldwork took place between February 2012 and April 2013. Interviews with undocumented migrants: Of the 55 interviews carried out, 20 interviews were with undocumented migrants from China, 20 with undocumented migrants from Turkey (including Kurds and Northern Cypriots) people and 15 with undocumented migrants from Bangladesh. Trained interviewers, with relevant community language skills, carried out the interviews with undocumented migrants in first languages and translated, transcribed and anonymised the transcripts. The project team carried out detailed training about the project, in-depth interviewing, translations and transcriptions, networking and sampling and research ethics. A number of starting points into networks were used to identify interviewees as a way of ensuring greater diversity than would have been the case if we had drawn from fewer networks, as networks are often quite homogeneous. Indicative quotas to obtain different social and demographic profiles that were relevant for the research questions were used to guide the fieldwork. These included quotas for sex, length of time in the UK and place of employment, either within or outside of the ethnic enclave. In the final sample of undocumented migrants, 40 were men and 15 were women reflecting the greater difficulties we had locating women who were living as undocumented migrants due, in part, to the mores hidden nature of their experiences within domestic settings. Interviews with Employers: Interviews were carried out with 24 employers. The final sample of employers comprised 7 Bangladeshi, 8 Chinese and 9 Turkish entrepreneurs of whom 6 were Kurds from Turkey, 2 were Turkish and 1 was from Northern Cyprus. Five interviewees were female and 19 were male. With the exception of one Bangladeshi heritage woman who ran a family owned business, all the other employers interviewed were migrants born outside of Britain. Length of time in Britain ranged from 9 years to over 40 years. The interviews were carried out in English by the university based research team. Employers were identified for interview using chain referral methods starting at multiple access points for greater sample heterogeneity. Initial points of access included cold calling at businesses, gatekeepers from community organisations and through the networks of the community researchers. Our success at finding employers willing to be interviewed was due in part to the timing of the fieldwork, which took place after most of the interviews with undocumented migrants had been carried out and so we were able to effectively utilise some of the networks that had been developed for that part of the research. An asynchronous internet focus group, conducted through an email group was carried out with seven employer participants.

This research explores the labour market experiences of undocumented migrants from Bangladesh, China and Turkey (including Kurds) living and working in London and the motivations of minority ethnic entrepreneurs employing people from these three groups. The study examines the ways in which undocumented migrants and their employers use social networks and other resources in relation to job seeking and work and how working relationships operate within frameworks of ethnicity, class and gender. Any additional disadvantages that might exist as a consequence of imbalanced power relationships due to immigration status and the extent to which employment relationships within ethnic enclave employment replicate or differ from employment relationships in general are examined. We are concerned to understand the ways in which being undocumented intersects with employment experiences and decision making about work and recruitment from both the perspectives of migrants and their employers, while engaging critically with theories of social capital. The research is based on in-depth interviews with 60 undocumented migrants, male and female, 30 working inside ethnic enclaves and 30 outside and with 24 minority ethnic employers running enclave businesses. Two asynchronous Internet focus groups with employers of undocumented migrants will be conducted to obtain a collective employer perspective.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Dates of fieldwork: 01 April 2013 - 31 January 2014
Country: United Kingdom
Geography: London
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Textual
Method of data collection: Two populations were studied in this research: undocumented migrants and ethnic enclave employers. In-depth qualitative interviews were used for both study populations. A total of 55 interviews with undocumented migrants and 24 with ethnic enclave employers from Bangladeshi, Chinese, Turkish (including Kurds from Turkey and Northern Cypriots) populations who were living in London at the time of the fieldwork. Non-probably sampling techniques were used for both study populations. Participants were found using networking and chain referral / snowballing methods that included multiple starting points from community organisations, migrant and refugee support groups, cold calling, snowballing through other interviewees and interviewer and research contacts. Quotas were set for key variables for the interviews with undocumented migrants. An asynchronous internet focus group, conducted through an email group was carried out with seven employer participants. Anonymous email accounts were set up for those who expressed their interest ensuring complete confidentiality and anonymity. Once the email addresses were set up and the participants signed up, the research team posted questions to the group and the participants could reply to the question, and to each other’s comments through Reply All. The discussion was open for three weeks.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 04 February 2016
Latest edition: 13 July 2017 (minor amendments only)
Copyright: Alice Bloch, University of Manchester
Access conditions: The Data Collection only consists of metadata and documentation as the data could not be archived due to legal, ethical or commercial constraints. For further information, please contact the contact person for this data collection. Data available from
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Sonia McKay, London Metropolitan University


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