Leveraging symbolic capital: The use of ‘blat’ networks across transnational spaces

Peter Rodgers, Natalia Vershinina, Colin C. Williams, Nicholas Theodorakopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we contribute to debates on how social networks sustain migrants' entrepreneurial activities. By reporting on 31 interviews with Eastern European migrants in the UK, we provide a critical lens on the tendency to assume that migrants have ready-made social networks in the host country embedded in co-ethnic communities. We extend this limited perspective by demonstrating how Eastern European migrants working in the UK transform blat social networks, formulated in the cultural and political contours of Soviet society, in their everyday lived experiences. Our findings highlight not only the monetarization of such networks but also the continuing embedded nature of trust existing within these networks, which cut across transnational spaces. We show how forms of social capital based on Russian language use and legacies of a shared Soviet past, are just as important as the role of ‘co-ethnics’ and ‘co-migrants’ in facilitating business development. In doing so, we present a more nuanced understanding of the role that symbolic capital plays in migrant entrepreneurial journeys and its multifaceted nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-136
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal Networks
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: RODGERS, P. , VERSHININA, N. , WILLIAMS, C. C. and THEODORAKOPOULOS, N. (2019), Leveraging symbolic capital: the use of blat networks across transnational spaces. Global Networks, 19: 119-136, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/glob.12188.  This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.


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