Migration and Freedom

Migration and Freedom

Mobility, Citizenship and Exclusion

Brad K. Blitz

Migration and Freedom is a thorough and revealing exploration of the complex relationship between mobility and citizenship in the European area. Drawing upon over 170 interviews, it provides an original account of the opportunities and challenges associated with the rights to free movement and settlement in Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Russia. It documents successful and unsuccessful settlement and establishment cases and records how both official and informal restrictions on individuals’ mobility have effectively created new categories of citizenship.

Chapter 2: Investigating freedom of movement

Brad K. Blitz

Subjects: development studies, migration, geography, human geography, law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights, migration, social policy and sociology, migration, social policy in emerging countries, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, migration


Personal freedom ultimately depends on how many doors are open, how open they are, and upon their relative importance in my life. (Isaiah Berlin, 1969, Four Essays on Liberty, pp. x–xi) The literature on freedom of movement provides some glimpses into the relationship between migration, citizenship and personal liberty. Most relevant to this book are the theoretical and normative investigations into the rights of migrants and the obligations of states; historical and constitutional studies regarding the incorporation of migrants into the polity; and economic accounts of migration and the free movement of persons in the context of European integration. Liberal political theorists writing on freedom of movement have been divided in their analyses of both the rights of migrants, above all international migrants, and the obligations on states to receive them. There are, however, significant differences in their treatment of mobility. At one extreme is the view held by Hannah Arendt that the right to free movement is foundational, not just for the expression of human rights but for human existence (2004). In her account, freedom of movement requires open borders since it is an indispensable condition for action that is one of the three fundamental activities of human existence. Action is achieved through labour (understood as livelihood-generating activities) and work (the act of constructing, building or producing), which entails reflection, a reality-affirming exercise. Action is therefore what defines us as human (since we alone can contemplate our existence).

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