Spatial Mobility and Social Mobility in the EU: Elite Reproduction or Social Spiralism?
EU free movement laws affect potential new avenues of professional mobility. Quantitative data from the PIONEUR project suggest that these European mobility opportunities are exacerbating existing inequalities between a mobile elite and immobile lower class populations. However, broken down by country of origin (esp. Spain) or country of destination (esp. Britain), as well as other variables, there is evidence of dramatic new social mobility for some: middle class “social spiralists”, who move out to move up, echoing Gouldner’s classic functionalist distinction between the different social trajectories of “cosmopolitans” and “locals” in periods of social change. Presenting some of my interviews-based ethnography in Amsterdam, London and Brussels, I will lay out some of the types of “spiralist” to be found in the integrating European space, focusing on new forms of south-to-north and province-to-metropole professional mobility; the pay-offs in certain professions by adventurous “pioneer” mobility; Eurocities as „third country“ spaces for cross-national romance; and the EU as a highly effective, positively gendered space for ambitious young women and others in search of alternative or non-heterosexual lifestyles.
Adrian Favell is Professor of European and International Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark.