Citizenship and Mobility in the EU
Edited by Ettore Recchi and Adrian Favell
Chapter 4: The Social Mobility of Mobile Europeans
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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