Pioneers of European Integration

Pioneers of European Integration

Citizenship and Mobility in the EU

Edited by Ettore Recchi and Adrian Favell

The free movement of EU citizens is the most visible sociological consequence of the remarkable process of European integration that has transformed the continent since the Second World War. Pioneers of European Integration offers the first systematic analysis of the small but symbolically potent number of Europeans who have chosen to live and work as foreigners in another member state of the EU. Based on an original survey of 5000 people moving to and from the EU’s five largest countries, the book documents the demographic profile, migration choices, cultural adaptation, social mobility, political participation and media use of these pioneers of a transnational Europe, as well as opening a window to the new waves of intra-EU East–West migrations.

Chapter 4: The Social Mobility of Mobile Europeans

Ettore Recchi

Subjects: development studies, migration, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, sociology and sociological theory, urban and regional studies, migration


Ettore Recchi SPATIAL AND SOCIAL MOBILITY: BETWEEN SPECULATION AND EMPIRICAL RESEARCH Social mobility is arguably the major spur for the spatial mobility of human beings. While it is true that some people relocate across borders regardless of occupational or economic reasons (be it to escape a war or retire in a sunny place), the bulk of migrants decide to move in order to improve their position in the social structure. Upward social mobility is the rationale for most migration projects. This chapter examines the intergenerational and intragenerational class mobility of EU movers. In particular, it is meant to outline the opportunities for social mobility in an almost completely open migration regime, such as the one created by free movement policies in the European Union. As Chapter 3 shows, intra-EU migration is driven by a wider canvas of individual strategies than social class advancement. People also move to join partners, follow spouses and enjoy a more peaceful or thrilling life. Yet such motives are no impediment to socioeconomic changes. And this is an even more plausible outcome for those who move in search of more rewarding jobs and careers. At least as a ‘null hypothesis’, the experience of EU movers might be assumed to conform to the baseline immigration story that classically finds a tight association of social and spatial mobility. Eventually, whether they fit in this story or not will help us assess the novelty of their migration pattern. Traditional migrants’ insertion into the social structures of destination countries does...

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