Intra-European Mobility and the Formation of a European Society

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 132 (University of Glasgow)
Sören Carlson , Department of Sociology, Europa-Universität Flensburg
Despite current economic and political crises, intra-European mobility, especially that of students and young, highly qualified professionals, is still widely regarded as a central mechanism for the formation of a European society. Previous research has pointed to the role that such “free movers” play in fostering a European sense of identity and transnational relations, as well as in advancing the Europeanization of national societies via asserting their right of free movement in court, if necessary. This paper argues that there also is an alternative way through which these “free movers” contribute to the formation of a European society. To this end, it follows recent conceptual attempts, inspired by Pierre Bourdieu, Neil Fligstein and others, to conceive such a society as a set of interwoven transnational social fields and asks to what extent these free movers (re-)produce such fields through their actions. Based on narrative-biographical interviews with Germans who graduated abroad in 2005 or earlier, the analysis focusses on the different practices and strategies these actors pursued in making their way professionally within different social fields in Europe. It also looks at the impediments some of them encountered in doing so, especially if the specific field they moved in was still rather nationally closed than transnationalized. Nevertheless, it can be shown that even under such conditions, the free movers’ actions contribute to the (re-)production of transnational social field structures, thus, eventually, bringing about a European society.