‘Growing up' in London: Young Romanian Migrants' Partial Transitions to Adulthood

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 132 (University of Glasgow)
Laura Morosanu , School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex
Alexandra Bulat , University College London
The European ‘freedom of movement’ has enabled many young people from the new EU accession states to seek educational or employment opportunities abroad, with a crucial impact on their life-course transitions. This paper examines how intra-European mobility shapes transitions to ‘adulthood’ in the case of Romanian migrants in London, looking at their career and family trajectories, as well as their own perception of autonomy and ‘success’. Drawing on in-depth interviews with different categories of migrants (students, lower-skilled and high-skilled workers), it shows how migration becomes a strategy to accomplish career transitions and (relative) financial independence, yet family-related transitions often lag behind. Furthermore, although some way from attaining desired occupations, many participants see migration as providing life experience and unique opportunities for self-development, which enable them to develop a sense of independence and maturity, compared to the more conventional pathways or perceived ‘stagnation’ of peers back home. The findings thus contribute to current debates around youth transitions in Europe in two ways. First, they show how migration may unevenly impact (and decouple) life-course transitions, accelerating some and delaying others. Secondly, by examining migrants’ subjective perceptions of independence and self-growth which are related to, and sometimes contested by, home-based peers, the paper calls for a transnational perspective on understanding how migration transforms youth transitions to adulthood.