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Accepted: 27 September 2017
DOI: 10.1002/psp.2117
Theorising new European youth mobilities
Russell King
Department of Geography, University of
Sussex, Brighton, UK
Russell King, Department of Geography,
University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9SJ, UK.
Funding information
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme; Project
on ‘YMOBILITY’, Grant/Award Number:
This paper's objective is to offer a range of appropriate theoretical formulations to better
understand the unfolding dynamics and characteristics of new European youth migrations. After
an extensive contextual introduction that sets the recent historical, institutional, and economic
scene, the paper presents and critically evaluates the usefulness of five theoretical frameworks:
(a) neoliberal “Single Market” economics and free movement of persons and labour; (b) the
renewed relevance of the core–periphery model of spatial economic structure and resultant
migration flows; (c) “liquid migration” and its defining ethos of “intentional unpredictability”;
(d) the intersection of migration with “youth transitions”; and (e) the “lifestyle migration”
East–West migration, Europe, theoretical frameworks for migration, youth migrations
important, including students and high‐skilled professionals joining
labour migrants and refugees. Finally, there was a trend towards the
The aim of this paper is to lay down a range of theoretical platforms for
feminisation of migration, both quantitatively and in terms of the
understanding the new European youth migrations (NEYM) that are at
agency of women in pioneering new migrations.
the heart of the YMOBILITY project and of this special issue. The
In Europe, a “new geography” of migration was unfolding (King,
growth in numbers and range of national origins of young people
1993), triggered by the fall of the Iron Curtain and the incorporation
migrating within Europe, documented briefly in the preceding editorial
into the European migration system of the Central and East European
introduction (King & Williams, 2017), is the result of a number of fac-
(CEE) countries. A new “space of opportunity” was opened up for
tors operating at multiple scales, which can be related in turn to several
these CEE populations who were, from the 1990s onwards, but in
theoretical and conceptual frames. By their nature, these theoretical
increasing numbers after the European Union (EU) enlargements of
frameworks operate mainly at the macro level, and this will be the main
the 2000s, able to travel, live, work, and study in the wealthier coun-
scalar focus of this paper, whilst overlooking the inevitable interscale
tries to the west of a border that was once nigh impossible to cross.
linkages to the micro and meso levels.
Especially for the younger age groups, considering the possibility of
There is abundant evidence that a new migration era started in
Europe in the early 1990s, unfolding with increasing dynamism over
migration became the “new norm”; they could be regarded as “settled
in mobility” (Morokvasic, 2004).
almost 3 decades since then. In the first edition of their now‐standard
In their stock‐taking paper, Favell and Hansen (2002: 581) opined
text, Castles and Miller (1993: 8‐9) nominated four key changes that
that at the turn of the millennium, migration had become “perhaps the
were defining what they saw as a new age of migration. First, migration
central issue … to the future of Europe” (emphasis in the original). On
was globalising, with more and more countries involved in migration
the one hand, the EU integration process had put the free movement
flows, including some (for instance, in Eastern Europe) that had been
of people and workers at the heart of its economic dynamic; on the
hitherto excluded, and others whose migration balance had changed
other hand, hostile public opinion, the exclusionary aspects of individ-
from net emigration to immigration (notably, the Southern European
ual governments' policies, and the tendency of political commentators,
countries). Second, migration was accelerating in quantitative terms
journalists, and some academics to obsess about “Fortress Europe”
after a period of flatter growth, including substantial return migration,
presented a range of countervailing narratives. Against the pre‐existing
in the late 1970s and 1980s. Third, migration was diversifying, with
accounts of nation‐state‐centred political and institutional theories of
new types of temporary and circular migration becoming more
migration, the expanding pan‐European arena of renewed labour
Popul Space Place. 2017;e2117.
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
1 of 12
2 of 12
migration and the extension of the four freedoms of movement (of
• The core–periphery model of migration flows and the two linked
goods, capital, services, and people) demanded alternative conceptual
but contrasting notions of dependent development and “escalator”
approaches. In Favell and Hansen's (2002: 581) view, both neoliberal
and older Marxian theories of the role of migrant labour needed to
• The characterisation of 21st‐century intra‐European mobility as
be reintroduced in order to explain the reconfiguration of European
“liquid migration” based on temporality, flexibility, and open‐ended
migration under the new geopolitical and market forces. At the same
time a different kind of migration revolution was unfolding in the
European space. Starting in the late 1980s, the EU‐sponsored Erasmus
programme of higher‐education student exchanges launched a new
generation of mobile young Europeans, enlarging it from a previous
concentration on language‐degree students. Along with work‐
placement internees, PhD researchers and Marie Curie post‐doctoral
• A more biographical, life‐course approach hinged around the
notion of “youth transitions” and the intersection between international mobility and the transition to adulthood.
• The lifestyle‐migration framework, usually applied to the relocation of older, middle‐class North Europeans to the rural and
fellows, these highly‐educated students, researchers, and soon‐to‐be
coastal landscapes of Southern Europe, but here applied to young
professionals were increasingly evident in the university cities and
people moving to attractive and vibrant cities.
major national and European capitals throughout the 1990s and
2000s. In two landmark ethnographies of these elite migrants, they
were called “the new strangers” (Murphy‐Lejeune, 2002) or simply
“Eurostars” (Favell, 2008a). Nowadays, 30 years on from the launch
of the Erasmus scheme, and with more than 3 million beneficiaries, it
is instructive to discover how many European professionals currently
living in a country different from that of their birth and origin had
The “free movement of labour” principle dates back to the 1957 Treaty
their first meaningful encounter with another European country as an
of Rome, which committed signatories to the abolition of obstacles to
“Erasmus experience”.
the free movements of persons, capital, goods, and services—the so‐
But there is a harsher, darker side to the new intra‐European youth
called “four freedoms”. Free movement of labour was therefore at
migrations, overlooked by the often too‐celebratory, self‐referential
the heart of the vision of Europe as an integrated and open common
rhetoric of the “Erasmus generation”. For many workers from the CEE
market (Boswell & Geddes, 2011: 181–182). In this “European labora-
countries, migratory life in the “West” is often about pure survival, living
tory of increased mobility” (Trenz & Triandafyllidou, 2017: 546), labour
on low wages, and doing tough jobs in degrading conditions—on
migration is considered to have made a fundamental contribution to
building sites, in the casualised labour niches of the urban service econ-
building economic strength, flexibility, and competitiveness in a world
omy, or in agricultural labour in extremes of weather. A recent devas-
economy that has become progressively globalised. In addition to driv-
tating exposé of the abusive conditions suffered by Romanian female
ing economic growth, labour mobility has also played a role in the cul-
agricultural workers in the fruit and vegetable farms of southern Sicily
tural and political consolidation of the European Single Market
(Tondo & Kelly, 2017) shows that the Marxian notion of a “reserve army
(Boswell & Geddes, 2011: 7–12). According to Favell and Hansen
of labour” is very much alive and thriving in today's Europe.1 And in a
(2002: 598), “the internal market in Europe is one of the most remark-
very different geographical setting, Wills et al. (2010) have analysed
able instances of modern nation‐states ‘letting go’ of their need to con-
the role of Eastern European workers in remaking the “migrant division
trol governance over the flow of capital, goods, services and persons”;
of labour” in the global city service economy of London.2
a unique natural laboratory of neoliberal economic principles overrid-
Following this scene‐setting introduction, the purpose of the
ing nationalist interests.
paper is now to present five theoretical frames that could be deemed
These economic principles rest firmly on the bedrock of neoclassi-
appropriate to conceptualising, and helping to explain, the highly varie-
cal economics applied to labour migration and the rational‐choice
gated nature of NEYM. Some of the conceptual frameworks incorpo-
movement of workers from low‐wage, high‐unemployment countries
rate the traditional economic drivers of migration, but I also broaden
and regions to those where the reverse conditions are in place—higher
the theoretical terrain to bring in frameworks which reflect, on the
wages, low unemployment, and labour demand. The theoretical result
one hand, the “newness” of the phenomenon and, on the other, the
is the so‐called triple‐win scenario, which in the context of the
non‐economic rationales behind the movements of some of these
post‐2004 East–West migration system unfolding in Europe, means
migrants. At the risk of overambition, this article could be seen as the
the following: (a) West European economies benefit from the inflow
most recent in a line of state‐of‐the‐art papers which, over the past
of young workers of varying skill levels, boosting output, productivity,
15 or so years, have tried to capture the Zeitgeist of these new and
and competitiveness; (b) East European migrating workers cash in on
constantly evolving patterns of European migration (e.g., Castles,
the premium of working in the higher‐wage West and are able to
2006; Favell, 2008b; Favell & Hansen, 2002; King, 2002; Morokvasic,
improve their lives, and those of their families, either back home
2004; Zimmermann, 2014).
(through remittances and savings) or by eventual settlement abroad;
The five theoretical frames are as follows:
and (c) the Eastern economies benefit from exporting their unemployment and gaining through remitted capital and the circulation of
• The neoliberal project of the Single Market and its associated free
movement of persons, inspired by neoclassical theory.
labour, especially if their workers return with improved and new
qualifications, skills, and competences.
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Several econometric studies reviewed by Kahanec, Pytlikova, and
Finally, from the side of the sending countries, there is evidence of
Zimmermann (2016) suggest that, indeed, the enlarged EU's experi-
brain drain, skill shortages and imbalances, and adverse economic and
ence with the free movement of labour tells a “virtuous story” in terms
demographic consequences resulting from large‐scale working‐age
of driving aggregate gross domestic product upward and creating ben-
outmigration (Kahanec & Zimmermann, 2010). These effects have
eficial employment effects, offering opportunities for both low‐ and
been especially severe in the small Baltic States (Hazans & Philips,
high‐skilled labour and facilitating a dynamic interchange of popula-
2010). According to analyses run by Fic, Holland, Paluchowski, and
tion. Moreover, according to Kahanec et al. (2016: 2‐4), there is little
Portes (2016) for the period 2004–2009, although the UK and Ireland
evidence of immigration increasing unemployment rates amongst
harvested overall net output gains of 1.5% and 4.1%, respectively, due
“native” workers or to support the “welfare magnet” or “benefit tour-
to intra‐EU migration (all other EU15 countries registered net gains
ism” hypotheses. Apart from housing prices and rents in migration
albeit below 1%), migrant‐origin countries suffered net output losses
hot spots, inflationary pressures are held down by a circulating supply
—by 8.2% in Lithuania, 4.3% in Latvia, 3.8% in Estonia, 3.3% in Slova-
of labour, and labour mobility and flexibility help to absorb the effects
kia, and 2.5% in Poland. These figures speak to a different theoretical
of asymmetric economic shocks such as the 2008 economic crisis. The
interpretation of the new European migration realities—one of imbal-
surprising fact is that, despite the apparent economic incentives and
ances and spatial uneven development.
disparities, only 2% of EU citizens are international migrants within
Europe, which prompts Zimmermann (2014: 6) to state that the challenge for Europe is the lack of sufficient labour mobility. Like other
economists of a neoclassical/neoliberal persuasion (as most are),
Zimmermann is bullish about the need for more migration in the EU, both
3 | CO RE – P E R I P H E R Y A N D N E W
over the short term to alleviate labour supply and demand disequilibria
and achieve a more optimal allocation of resources, and over the lon-
The history of immigration within and into Europe has always borne a
ger term to respond to demographic trends. According to him, Eastern
strong relationship to the geography of uneven development, both
European migrant workers have done Europe “a big favour” by making
within Europe and on a global scale (Williams, Baláž, & Wallace,
labour markets more flexible; whereas the ongoing economic crisis in
2004). By and large, migrants have moved from countries and regions
Greece, Spain and Portugal is more contentiously regarded as a “bless-
that are relatively poor in relation to the chosen destination countries.3
ing in disguise” as it has incentivised young people to move to better
A fruitful way to examine this relationship between the spatial pattern
opportunities in other European countries (Zimmerman, 2014: 7, 10).
of origin–destination migration flows and the geography of uneven
Underneath the simple logic of neoliberal economic principles lie
development is to make recourse to the core–periphery framework
more subtle relations and processes. Favell (2008b: 704) points out
(King, 2015; Seers, Schaffer, & Kiljunen, 1979). With its roots in Marx-
the ethnic competitive advantage of “white, culturally proximate”
ist political economy and the theory of the “development of underde-
European migrants over non‐white, non‐European, culturally and reli-
velopment”, this is a very different conceptual and ideological stance
giously “different” immigrants from further afield (see also McDowell,
from the neoliberal model. The pattern of migration—from poorer to
2009). This was certainly the case in Britain under New Labour, until
richer countries—is the same in both cases; what differs is the interpre-
a different constellation of circumstances—economic recession, con-
tation of the outcome. In the neoclassical/neoliberal model, the out-
servative‐led governments, and ultimately, Brexit—changed somewhat
come is an increase in aggregate welfare and a potential evening out
the rules of the game. Meardi (2012) records a number of “social fail-
of disequilibria, including regional inequalities, through market forces;
ures” of post‐enlargement labour mobility, including weak integration
in the dependent‐development model, the result is the reproduction
into host labour markets and societies, low bargaining power in terms
of the very structural forces that drive migration in the first place.
of wages and working conditions, low levels of satisfaction about the
In the landmark—but surprisingly little‐cited—study on Underdevel-
working conditions endured by CEE migrants, and the possible emer-
oped Europe: Studies in Core–Periphery Relations, Seers (1979a: xiii)
gence of an immigrant underclass within a new migrant division of
points out that, although “core and periphery” is a metaphor that
labour (Wills et al., 2010). Many CEE migrants have little option but
admits a range of theoretical positions, it is, for dependency theorists,
to accept low‐status, physically hard, and repetitive jobs in segmented,
a shorthand for a set of structural relationships in which the core coun-
often ethnicised labour niches, where they suffer multiple levels of
tries are all‐powerful. The geographical pattern in Europe is simple and
exclusion and exploitation. Several studies document the migrants'
rather symmetrical. The countries that are more advanced economi-
downskilling into jobs below their qualification and skill levels, which
cally, and which also tend to be socially and politically dominant, are
not only damages migrants' morale and self‐esteem but also diminishes
grouped together at the centre; and the others, less developed and
potential aggregate economic productivity (Clark & Drinkwater, 2008;
more “dependent”, are arranged in a ring forming the periphery. Migra-
Demireva, 2011; Drinkwater, Eade, & Garapich, 2009; Johnston,
tion, especially labour migration, is the defining feature of the function-
Khattib, & Manley, 2015; Parutis, 2011). On the other hand, there is
ing European core–periphery system. During the early post‐war
also evidence from some of the above‐cited research that, especially
decades, the main labour‐exporting countries within Europe lay on
for younger migrants, deskilling into “bad” and exploitative jobs is a
the southern periphery: Portugal, Spain, Southern Italy, Yugoslavia,
stepping‐stone rather than a cul‐de‐sac, until such point as they can
Greece, and Turkey. West Germany was the main destination country
build their human capital (language skills, cultural knowledge, social
for these labour migrants, who were labelled “guestworkers” to indi-
networks, etc.) and improve their labour‐market position.
cate their intended temporary stay; also important were France,
4 of 12
Switzerland, and the Benelux countries. Meanwhile, there were also
formulation, Seers (1979b: 7‐9) already categorised Finland as
significant periphery‐to‐core migration flows from the western periph-
“semiperiphery” and drew attention to the ambiguous position of Italy.
ery (Ireland to Britain) and the northern periphery (Finland to Sweden):
He also made a distinction between an “inner periphery” of labour‐
see the map in Seers (1979b: 4). At that time, the eastern periphery—
exporting European countries (chiefly, the Southern European
another flange of poor countries—was cut off by the Iron Curtain, with
countries and Ireland) and an “outer periphery” of migrant‐sending
the exception of Yugoslavia.
countries made up of North Africa and Turkey. Nowadays, we might
All this changed in 1989–1991 and especially after 2004, when
classify much of Southern Europe as semiperiphery (or, perhaps,
eight CEE countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the
Czech and Slovak republics, and Slovenia) joined the EU, followed by
countries and the fact that there is a coexistence of emigration and
Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 and Croatia in 2013. New east‐to‐west
immigration flows.
migration flows ensued, which proved to be especially intense from
A second refinement, which cuts across what has just been said, is
Poland, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, and most recently, Romania. During
to highlight the very real dichotomy, which survives the removal of the
the interim, most of the countries of the southern, western, and north-
Iron Curtain, between “Western” and “Eastern” Europe. EU enlarge-
ern peripheries changed their migration status, having undergone a
ment and North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership have not
“migration turnaround” from countries of large‐scale emigration to
eradicated this bipolar divide, which persists not just in differences in
destinations for immigration flows mostly originating from outside
economic development and migration flows but also in perceptual
Europe (King, Fielding, & Black, 1997). This was related to these
geography. Kuus (2004) draws attention to the development of a
countries' increasing prosperity, in part facilitated by earlier EU
strong orientalist discourse towards “Eastern Europe” that is seen as
not yet fully European and so is continually “othered” as different, less
The significance of the major 2004 enlargement in the evolving
developed and needing to still prove its European credentials. Accord-
core–periphery structuring of intra‐European migration is neatly
ing to Kuus (2004: 475), two opposing accounts have been perpetu-
brought out by Baláž and Karasová (2017): in contrast to the period
ated by the West about the “East” of Europe. One is of a linear
1997–2004, when centre‐to‐centre flows dominated (61.5% of total
transition to the West and a narrative of progressive modernisation
intra‐European migration, cf. 34.4% periphery‐to‐centre), in the post‐
and “catching up”; the other stresses the survival of “old” patterns of
enlargement period (2005–2013), periphery‐to‐core migration rose
“communist” geopolitics, corruption, and underdevelopment, almost a
to 47.5% of the total, whereas the share of centre‐to‐centre migration
new part of the “third world” that needs Western tutelage to be fully
decreased to 48.4%. Flows within the periphery (2.7% in 1997–2004
modernised. In the meantime, the CEE countries, newly liberated from
and 2.6% in 2005–2013) and from core to periphery (1.5% and 1.6%,
the prison of the Iron Curtain and progressively incorporated into the
respectively) are minor by comparison.
neoliberal EU, can be plundered for their copious reserve armies of
The 2008 financial crisis was another event with profound impli-
labour to fulfil the demands of the employment markets of the EU15,
cations for migration and for reaffirming the core–periphery pattern
especially in the fields of construction, seasonal agricultural work,
of uneven economic development within Europe. Under the earlier
low‐grade service jobs, and the care sector.
“guestworker model” of migration, the role of migrant workers was
Third, we draw attention to the fact that the core–periphery
to act as a cyclical shock absorber, so that the recessions of the
model exists at multiple scales, each of which generates its own set
1970s and 1980s in countries such as West Germany and France were
of migration dynamics. On a global scale, North America (especially
cushioned by the export of unemployment back to the migrant‐
the US) and Europe (especially the UK, Germany, and France) are the
sending countries via return migration. But in 2008, the countries
two dominant cores. Other macroregional core–periphery systems,
hardest‐hit by the crisis were all geographically peripheral: Spain,
where labour migration is a key structuring force, focus on the Gulf,
Portugal, Italy, and (especially) Greece to the south; Ireland to the
Southern Africa, and Eastern Asia. Then there are core–periphery
west; and the three Baltic states on the north‐eastern periphery.
structures embedded within the spatial systems of most countries,
Falling incomes, severe austerity measures including drastic welfare
again linked to, even driven by, internal migration flows which are
cuts, and rising unemployment triggered a new wave of periphery‐to‐
interregional and/or rural–urban. To take a European example, Italy
core “crisis migrations”, which continues up to the present. These
has two “cores”: the political capital Rome and the economic capital
new European migrations involve all of the prior peripheral countries
Milan: both are targets for migration from all parts of Italy but espe-
except Finland and are made up, to a greater extent than the
cially from the peripheral South. In fact, the rise of global cities (Sassen,
post‐war era of labour migration, of a wide range of human‐capital
1991) as a new “metageography” (Beaverstock, Smith, & Taylor, 2000)
endowments, including many young graduates and skilled workers.
which is superimposed on and, to some extent, detached from, the
They confirm the continuing relevance of the core–periphery model,
template of nation‐states, creates a new framework for understanding
not just as an expression of spatial structure and flows but as testi-
global and European migration flows, given that large cities (in Europe,
mony to the enduring power of the process of uneven economic and
London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Milan, etc.) are
political development.
the magnets which attract migrants of all categories and skill levels.
However, in its contemporary European guise, several modifica-
Fourth, we need to remember that the flows that structure the
tions can be made to the core–periphery framework, which to some
core–periphery model are not just of people and not just in one direc-
extent are in tension with each other. The first is to critique the dichot-
tion. The core‐to‐periphery counterflow migrations may be small in
omous split into merely two zones of core and periphery. In his original
terms of their statistically recorded weight, but their contemporary
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nature as often circular and episodic does involve movement in both
has been replaced by societies which are, in many respects, fluid, flex-
directions. Moreover, the way in which migration flows are comple-
ible, and under constant change. As Bauman (2000: 82, 97) writes
mentary to other “free‐movement” flows needs to be recognised—
especially remittances and job‐generating investment, which have the
potential to stimulate some forms of development in the periphery.
An interesting subplot within core–periphery thinking is provided
by Fielding's (1992) “escalator region” hypothesis. Originally conceived
to model internal migration within Britain, with a focus on London and
the South East as the “upward social class escalator” for mobile young
adults from less dynamic regions who were keen to advance their
Modern life … comprises constant change, temporariness,
“becoming”, avoiding completion, staying undefined…
Each new structure which replaces the previous one … is
only another momentary settlement – acknowledged as
temporary “until further notice” … Flexibility has
replaced solidity as the ideal condition to be pursued of
things and affairs.
careers, incomes, and social status, this conceptual model can also be
Applied to migration, this quote signals three things. First, there
applied to other European migration contexts and scales. Within the
has been a transformation in the nature of European migration, which
YMOBILITY project, two earlier papers deploy the notion of London
is no longer so strongly shaped by patterns of family formation, labour‐
as an escalator region for pan‐European graduate migration from coun-
market and career structures, ethnic communities, and the nation‐
tries as diverse as Germany, Italy, and the Baltic States (King, Lulle,
state. It is also very different from the earlier European migration
Parutis, & Saar, 2015; King, Lulle, Conti, & Mueller, 2016). Taking a dif-
regimes of guestworkers (who became long‐term settlers), post‐colo-
ferent comparative angle, Conti and King (2015) studied both the
nial migrations, and asylum‐seeking refugees. Actually, these earlier
internal migration of young Italian graduates (South to North within
types have not disappeared: Stephen Castles (2006) has written about
Italy) and their emigration to London. For international movers, London
the resurrection of the guestworker system in a new guise, Hansen
is indeed an escalator region where higher incomes and especially bet-
(2014) has noted the continued relevance of “post‐imperial forma-
ter career prospects are achievable compared to what is available in
tions” in ongoing global migration flows, and the Syrian refugee crisis
Italy. Meanwhile, for internal migrants, Milan functions as an escalator
exemplifies the salience of contemporary refugee flows for Europe
city for graduates originating from the Italian Centre and South.
(Collyer & King, 2016). What has changed, both quantitatively and
Fielding's escalator hypothesis is not just about the articulation of
qualitatively, is the addition of the “new face” of a predominantly
core–periphery structures but also speaks to some of the behavioural
East–West migration system (Favell, 2008b) in the wake of the 2004
and psychological attributes of young, ambitious people who are open
and 2007 enlargements, featuring mainly temporary and circular
and flexible about their migration plans and spatial trajectories—an
migration regimes, loosely‐structured personal and family networks,
approach dealt with more directly in the next section.
and a quickly instituted or “easy” transnationalism (Ryan, Klekowski
von Kloppenfels, & Mulholland, 2015: 198–199).
The second signal picked up from the Bauman quote is received at
“ I N T E N T I O N A L U N P R E D I C T A B I LI T Y ”
a more individual‐scale frequency. This refers to the ways in which
migrants adjust their behaviour and mindsets in a more immediate
and flexible response to contingent events, evolving new models of
A third theoretical frame for NEYM comes from Engbersen and Snel's
space–time mobility to take advantage of economic and lifestyle
liquid migration (Engbersen 2012; Engbersen & Snel, 2013), which
opportunities in a widening cognitive and geopolitical space of free
these authors specifically apply to the buoyant and fast‐changing flows
movement. This is close to the aetiology of liquid migration as pro-
resulting from the EU's eastern enlargements. At first sight, liquid
posed by Engbersen and Snel (2013), and I will unpack the essence
migration seems well‐suited to characterising the phenomenology of
of this theoretical concept shortly.
NEYM, including the vexed question as to whether this should be
Before doing so, the third implication of Bauman's statement is the
labelled as mobility or migration—a dilemma also referred to in the edi-
much larger‐scale claim that human spatial mobility, including interna-
torial introduction to this special issue (King & Williams, 2017).
tional migration, becomes the defining characteristic of society in late‐
Another paper in this special issue (Lulle, Morosanu, & King, 2017,
modern times. This optic—the so‐called “mobilities framework”—also
on young EU migrants in London) also deploys the liquid migration
critiques the outdated survival of “static” or “sedentarist” models of
framework as its starting point. Although this concept is attractive, a
society that marginalise mobility and migration as somehow “abnor-
critical perspective also needs to be introduced, especially in light of
mal”, whereas, in fact, in one way or another, “it seems as if all the
the two major “shocks” to the intra‐European migratory system over
world is on the move” (Urry, 2007: 3). Here, we confront a terminolog-
the past decade—the economic crisis of 2008 and ensuing years, and
ical dilemma: do we connote the dense and active web of intra‐EU
the United Kingdom's unexpected decision to leave the EU following
international moves as mobility or migration? The “mobilities turn”
the June 2016 referendum.
has many supporters (especially its pioneer Urry, 2007; see also
Liquid migration owes its intellectual heritage to Zygmunt
Cresswell, 2006; Adey, 2010), and several important texts on
Bauman's pioneering study Liquid Modernity, although it is remarkable
European migration/mobility opt for the “mobility” term in their titles
that, in this and his other “liquid” books, Bauman (2000, 2003, 2005,
(e.g., Cairns, 2010; Favell, 2008a; Recchi, 2015; Recchi & Favell,
2007) actually says rather little about migration. The key to liquid
2009). For sure, the boundary between migration and mobility is
modernity is that the erstwhile “solidity” of fixed notions such as social
blurred: they are overlapping but nevertheless distinct concepts. It is
class, stable families, cohesive neighbourhoods, and the nation‐state
common to set the criterion for defining migration as a 6 or 12 months
6 of 12
stay in the destination country. This makes it clear that migration,
books” in the informal economy, in which case their presence is
unlike mobility, is about “staying put” after the move and, hence, differ-
legal but their work is irregular.
ent from business trips, tourism, travel, or visiting friends.
• Liquid migration flows tend to be sudden and spontaneous. They
Arguably, liquid migration is the most satisfactory terminological
are not shaped by the political and economic factors that governed
compromise: it makes it clear that this is about crossing borders and
migration in the past. The Polish migration flows to the UK and Ire-
engaging in a meaningful stay for work, study, and family reunion,
land are good examples of this new opportunism.
but also that these moves are not necessarily long‐term and can be
subject to a variety of ongoing trajectories.
I now move to a critical but appreciative examination of the concept. In his various single‐ and joint‐authored writings on liquid migration, Engbersen lists both the institutional factors leading to the
emergence of liquid migration and the basic dimensions of its occurrence. The macroscale shaping factors are as follows:
• The fifth dimension links directly to the third of the broad societal
factors mentioned above: the diminishing role of family and
kinship networks in the face of more individualised migration
decision‐making and behaviour. Most “liquid migrants” are
young and unmarried and are postponing marriage and children
until later.
• Finally, there is an attempt by the authors to define the essence
• The transition of the CEE countries to liberal–democratic regimes
of liquid migration as a migratory habitus of intentional unpredict-
around 1989–1991, giving citizens freedom to migrate abroad,
ability; or in plainer language, a deliberate stance of keeping
especially after the EU's eastern expansion.
options open.
• The growth in demand for more flexible kinds of labour in many
EU countries: hence, a marked rise in temporary, casual, part‐time
The picture set out above is fairly clear; but its recency is only now
jobs, with insecure or short‐term contracts, often low‐status work
stimulating critical debate, including reflections by Engbersen (2016:
and at minimum wage levels.
• The trend of European societies towards “individualisation” (Beck
& Beck‐Gernsheim, 2002), with slackening family solidarity and
more freedom given to young‐adult children to “go their own
• Technological changes, ranging from the boom in cheap air and
coach travel to the growth in information communication technology and social media, all of which facilitate mobility across borders,
offer information about potential destinations and create a virtual
social‐contact space for maintaining family and friendship relations
in an instantaneous manner.
All these factors seem entirely appropriate to the NEYM scenario
that unfolded, with two exceptions or refinements. First, there is an
overemphasis on East–West migrations resulting from enlargements
and an overlooking of the role played by Southern European countries,
especially after 2008. And second, there is an overplaying of the role of
migrants filling bottom‐rank jobs, to the exclusion of medium‐ and
higher‐skilled mobility, which also grew rapidly across these years.
However, this latter point is taken on board in the six key elements
of liquid migration as set out by Engbersen (2012: 98–101; also
Engbersen & Snel, 2013: 33–35). These are the following:
• The temporary nature of the stay abroad. Most migrants do not
intend to settle permanently but move back and forth (circular
and pendular migration) or move to other destination countries
(onward migration). Some migrants, however, settle longer‐term
and aspire for, and achieve, upward socio‐economic mobility.
• Liquid migration is predominantly labour migration, with student
migration a subtype; both are short‐term, at least initially.
5–6) himself. Three main points of contention have been raised. First,
how new really is liquid migration? Temporary, circular and seasonal
migrations have occurred in many spatio‐temporal contexts in the past,
including within Europe (seasonal movements for agricultural and tourism‐sector work), but also in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. Second, liquid migration pays insufficient attention to the dynamics of the
migration process which, as Friberg (2012) has pointed out in the case
of Polish migration to Norway, develops through a series of stages,
starting with circular migration but then maturing towards settlement
and community formation. This critical point rests on the important
distinction drawn by de Haas (2010) between factors triggering the
inception of the migration and those leading to its perpetuation.4
The third critical perspective is summed up in the title of a recent
paper by Bygnes and Erdal (2017): “liquid migration, grounded lives.”
Engbersen (2012: 98) argued that the European East–West migration
system has become disembedded from the “thick and stable social institutions” of class, family, community, neighbourhood, and nation‐state;
but Friberg (2012) and Bygnes and Erdal (2017) find that, eventually,
such migrants search for stability and a “re‐embedding” through the
labour market, career progress, and new community and family networks. Studies of Baltic, German, and Italian graduate migrants in
London by King et al. (2015) and King et al. (2016), which were pilot‐study
precursors of the YMOBILTY project, and the paper by Lulle et al.
(2017) in this special issue, likewise reveal a general desire for career
progression, based on accumulated human‐capital endowments such
as language, work experience, and further educational qualifications.
Parutis (2011) described how many of her research participants (Poles
and Lithuanians in London) transited from an initial acceptance of
“any” job (dictated by the need to find employment quickly) to a “better”
job (facilitated by improved English and better knowledge of the “system”) and, for some, to an “ideal” job that fully reflected the migrant's
• Migrants are legal because, as EU citizens, they have full rights to
aspirations, experience, and qualifications. In the background of many
residence, work, and study in another member‐state, unless they
of these recent studies is the notion of youth transition from an
are from countries still in a transition status (Bulgaria and Romania
individualised lifestyle, with few family responsibilities, to a life stage
recently, Croatia currently), or unless they are working “off the
(typically in the late 20s or early 30s) where thoughts of a longer‐term
7 of 12
career and family formation become prominent. This provides a link to
Single Market and EU enlargements. However, the ruptures of the
the next body of theory framing NEYM.
economic crisis (2008 and after) and Brexit (2016 and ongoing) are
having geographically differentiated effects, triggering migrations from
some countries (Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Latvia) but blocking
P R O C E S S E S S O F “ B EC O M I N G ,”
“ U N B E C O M I N G ,” A N D “ RU PTUR E ”
others (“free” migration into the UK in the future).
Ruptures or reversals in transitions can also occur at an individual
level due to illness, redundancy, failure to pass exams, or a relationship
or family breakdown (Hörschelmann, 2011). This has the potential to
In a recent interview in The Observer Magazine, Irish actor Cillian
disrupt both the standard life stage and career progressions from
Murphy explains his return migration to Dublin, after 14 years in
education to employment or from one kind of employment (low‐paid,
London, as a “common Irish narrative.” This is “to move away in your
precarious) to another (better‐paid, more secure, more career‐
20s to England or America to establish yourself and find your calling,
oriented), and the way in which these transitions are dependent on
and then to come home … it is just natural … You want to be with your
mobility/migration. For instance, an event such as redundancy or exam
parents as they get older and you want your children to be aware of
failure could trigger either emigration or return migration, depending
their culture” (Lawrence, 2017: 15–16). This quote neatly encapsulates
on the circumstances. Another variant is the reversal of the study‐to‐
the double migration (from Ireland to London and back again) which
work transition: some young people migrate in order to earn money
underpins the nexus between migration/mobility on the one hand
to finance their future studies, whereas others may study and work
and youth‐to‐adult transitions on the other.
simultaneously. Youth life transitions that deviate from the linear norm
Although undeniably age‐related, youth is increasingly seen as a
are termed “misleading” or “yo‐yo” transitions by Du Bois‐Reymond
socially and culturally constructed category. It is also highly fluid: situ-
and López Blasco (2003), who explain that such “different” transitions
ational, contextual, and relational—in relation to being a child or ado-
are strongly related to flexible labour market relations and to the
lescent on the one side or an adult, middle‐aged or older person on
“destandardisation” of both work and education. The yo‐yo profile
the other. “Youth” can be self‐identified or externally ascribed, and
enables young people to maximise their utility opportunities at differ-
these two identifications may not match up—an individual may see
ent points in time in different places/countries, potentially experience
him/herself as youthful but not be seen as such by others (and vice
a diversity of possible future trajectories and transitions and build up a
versa). Moreover, like all identifications, youth is evolutionary: a
portfolio of skills and qualifications. This conceptualisation chimes with
process of becoming (Worth, 2009) oriented across and through time
Williams' (2007) notion of the “learning migrant,” who achieves
to some future state when the youthful life‐stage is left behind in a
self‐improvement through mobility and, in a more existential vein,
dialectical process of unbecoming, of being “no longer young.”
experiences international mobility as a project of self‐realisation or rite
Let us unpack these statements further. Arnett (2000, 2004) has
of passage to full adulthood.
drawn attention to the increasingly “blurred conditions” of the youth
Worth's (2009) important intervention in the reconceptualisation
transition and to the notion of “emerging adulthood” as an evermore
of youth as a “process of becoming” and my linked notion of the depar-
fluid phase of the life cycle. Although Arnett correctly identifies the
ture from the youthful life stage as a form of unbecoming reflect the
age group (late teens and the twenties) which several studies have
prolongation of youthful appearances, lifestyles, and self‐perceptions
shown corresponds to the cohort of the highest migration propensity
into older ages. Although glib phrases like “40 is the new 30” are useful
(cf. King, Thomson, Fielding, & Warnes, 2006: 240), youth transitions,
pointers, much more powerful are the underlying capitalist dynamics of
and alongside them, youth mobilities, have become more diversified
consumer culture, in this case promoting youth‐lifestyle products in
and complex in recent years. Several refinements and modifications
the fields of clothing, sports gear, grooming products, and cosmetics.
need to be added to the linear life‐stage model that equates the pas-
But the extension of the youth life stage to older biological ages, and
sage from youth to “adulthood” with some kind of teleological progres-
the consequently protracted transition to “full adulthood”, is also
sion associated with high geographic mobility.
shaped by other external economic and cultural factors, including the
globalisation and flexibilisation of European labour markets, the exten-
individualisation noted by Beck and Beck‐Gernsheim (2002), whereby
sion of full‐time education, and the delayed access to satisfying work
especially young persons' biographies are much more individualised
careers and an acceptable income.
and disembedded from the previously strong framing structures of
Worth's (2009: 1058) reinscribing of temporality into youth transi-
family, class, neighbourhood, and career track than they were in the
tion theory and, in particular, her focus on “multiple becomings” and on
past. Second, there is the postponement of the youth‐to‐adult transi-
“futurity”, or flexible open‐endedness to future pathways, resonate
tion, typically from the 20s to the 30s. For increasing numbers of
with the previously discussed conceptual frame of liquid migration.
young (and not‐so‐young) people, this delay in concrete plans for mar-
Above all, it presages a retheorisation of the importance of the time
riage and parenthood is progressive and often interrelated with other
dimension in studies of life transitions and mobility, further evidence
considerations relating to lifestyle, mobility, material resources, and
for which comes from a number of recent papers. On the one hand,
access to housing. A third issue is the way in which major geopolitical
there have been several calls for attention to be paid to the whole
and economic events have the potential to either enhance or disrupt
lifecourse in studies of population and migration (e.g., Bailey, 2009)
the linked processes of youth mobility and youth transitions. Undoubt-
and for looking not just at the biographicity of individuals but their
edly, the pace of youth migrations within Europe was stimulated by the
relationships to significant others through a “linked‐lives” approach—
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relational to other family members (as in Cillian Murphy's interview clip
What, exactly, is meant by lifestyle migration? According to Benson
at the head of this section) and to peer groups of movers and non‐
and O'Reilly (2009: 609‐610), “lifestyle migrants are relatively affluent
movers (Findlay, McCollum, Coulter, & Gayle, 2015).
individuals of all ages, moving either part‐time or full‐time to places that
On the other hand, another group of studies (Collins & Shubin,
… signify for the migrant a better way of life. The fundamental features
2015; King & Lulle, 2015; Marcu, 2017; Shubin, 2015) has argued for
of the different lifestyles sought include the re‐negotiation of the work‐
the analysis of temporalities in mobility and youth transitions “beyond”
life balance, quality of life, and freedom from prior constraints’. Cohen
and “within” the lifecourse, drawing on more philosophical writings
et al. (2015: 155‐157) argue that lifestyle mobilities lie at “the cross-
about time and spatio‐temporal rhythms by Heidegger (1996) and
roads of travel, leisure and migration” and relate the phenomenon to
Lefebvre (2004). To illustrate, we take two examples, both drawing
societal shifts associated with post‐Fordism, late (or post) modernity,
on the recent mobility experiences of young Eastern Europeans. In
and the transition from class structures and identities based on the
the first, Shubin (2015) deploys a Heideggerian approach to the condi-
logics of production to those increasingly fashioned through the prac-
tion of “mobile being” amongst Eastern Europeans in Scotland, bringing
tices and aesthetics of consumption—of particular ways of life in partic-
together the “objective and subjective timespaces of migration”, and
ular places. Studies that employ the lifestyle‐migration optic include
revealing the “constantly unfolding openness” of possible future
Benson's (2011) ethnography of the British middle‐class in rural France,
(im)mobilities (Shubin, 2015: 359–360). Heidegger's notion of “being‐
King, Warnes, and Williams (2000) on international retirement migra-
on‐the‐move” (1996: 375) disturbs conventional understandings of
tion to the Mediterranean, and O'Reilly's (2000) in‐depth portrayal of
migrations based on a “here and there” conceptualisation of movement
the British community in Fuengirola, southern Spain.
and place, and Shubin's quotes from interviews with migrants doing a
I argue that this conceptualisation of the importance of lifestyle in
range of low‐ and higher‐skill jobs reveal struggles with the different
migration decision‐making is too narrow and suggest that for many
temporalities and places/placelessness of the post‐2004 East
young people moving within Europe in recent years, lifestyle consider-
European migrant experience and their own uncertain futures.
ations loom large. But for them, it is not the sylvan landscapes of the
In the second example, Marcu (2017) studies the multiple
Dordogne or Tuscany that attract, nor the sunny coasts of southern
intersecting (but also conflicting) rhythms of mobility of young
Spain or the Algarve, but rather the lifestyles associated with exciting
Bulgarians and Romanians in Spain. She builds on Lefebvre's (2004)
and culturally vibrant European cities. These are the “Eurocities”
rhythmanalysis, linking rhythmic temporalities to the geography of
students' and young working migrants' mobilities, distinguishing
Amsterdam, or Barcelona. In saying this, however, we must be careful
between three rhythmic types. Arrhythmic mobility occurs in a situa-
not to overgeneralise and instead be aware of the heterogeneity of
tion of temporary, precarious work mixed with unemployment: moves
young migrants who move within Europe. Above all, lifestyle migrants'
are forced, denied, or out of sync with the migrant's volition. Poly-
search for a better life is “a relative endeavour, pitted against negative
rhythmic moves are a reaction to the multiple constraints of combining
presentations of life before migration” (O'Reilly & Benson, 2009: 3).
studying and working in different places—for instance studying in the
For the poor and/or unemployed young migrant from, say, Poland or
UK, working in Spain during the tourist season, plus visits “home” to
Romania, achieving a better work–life balance is about getting more,
the origin country. Finally, eurhythmic movement refers to the “nor-
and better‐paid, work, not about having more leisure and relaxation.
mal” or “harmonious” rhythm of a predictable cycle—for instance the
On the other hand, students moving for an Erasmus exchange or for
financially secure student who routinely circles between Bulgaria/
a complete degree programme are drawn by the “atmosphere” and
Romania and Spain, or a regularly employed worker whose contractual
cultural attractions of certain European cities, where the “student
security likewise allows a harmonious and planned cycle of movement.
lifestyle” can best be enjoyed.5 And for higher‐skill working migrants,
What is less clear from these analyses of young East Europeans is
lifestyle considerations may play either an ancillary or even a dominant
how their diverse geographical mobility rhythms might change in the
role in their decision‐making.
future (if at all) once the youth transition is over. Does mobility con-
Nevertheless, the implied elitism of the argument that confines
tinue as a lifestyle choice (either preferred or enforced)? Or do these
lifestyle‐induced migration to a cultural aesthetic of the middle and
East Europeans, like Cillian Murphy, intend to return to their home
affluent classes does need to be challenged: why should not work-
country; and if they do, is this where they will feel they truly belong?
ing‐class migrants have similar aspirations for a “better” lifestyle?
Bolognani (2014) makes much the same point in her research on
Pakistani labour migrants who choose to return to Pakistan largely for
lifestyle reasons—they appreciate the chance to access a more relaxed
style of life, be close to relatives and friends, and experience a more
Throughout the earlier parts of this paper, there are repeated hints that
accepting religious atmosphere. In their most recent writing on lifestyle
contemporary youth migrations in Europe are not just moves dictated
migration, in which they attempt to “deconstruct and reconstruct” the
by work, income, and career prospects but also shaped by notions of
concept, Benson and O'Reilly (2016) acknowledge a much broader
“lifestyle”—“the ongoing quest for a better way of life” (Benson,
relevance of this framework. They see lifestyle migration not as refer-
2011). This search for a “better life” can also be seen as part of the
ring to a specific and homogenous category of migrants but rather as
phenomenon of youth transition: as Korpela (2009) puts it albeit in a
an analytical tool and a new way of thinking about why migration
very different context (Western backpackers travelling to India), the
occurs and how it expresses itself behaviourally; in other words, “a lens
“trip to adulthood becomes a lifestyle”.
rather than a box” (2016: 35; authors' emphasis). They suggest (2016:
9 of 12
31) that “many other studies may find it useful to think about the life-
These latter features ushered in the second theoretical frame,
style elements of migration … to understand the complex reasoning
based on the Marxist‐inspired political economy of the inherently
and experiences of migrants”, and briefly mention the “city imaginaries”
uneven nature of capitalist development: migration was argued to be
that draw young people to Berlin (quoting Griffiths & Maile, 2014). We
intrinsic to the functioning of the European core–periphery model. This
suggest pushing this “urban lifestyle” optic much further and draw
model was effective in portraying the Fordist industrial‐era migration
attention to a developing stream of literature, starting with Favell's
flows in the 1950s–1970s, and its relevance was demonstrated anew
(2008a) Eurostars and Eurocities, which describes in a unique documen-
after the fall of the Iron Curtain. EU enlargement widened the reserve
tary style the social, economic, and cultural lives of young European
army of labour, and the effects of peripherality were on the whole rein-
professionals in several Eurocities, and continuing with several other
forced by the eurocrisis, especially in small peripheral economies like
case studies, including recent output from the YMOBILITY project
Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Latvia, and Lithuania, from which emigration
(Dubucs, Pfirsch, Recchi, & Schmoll, 2017; King, Lulle, Parutis et al.,
accelerated after 2008. Although I consider that the value of the
2015; King et al., 2016; Lulle et al., 2017; Ryan & Mulholland, 2014).
insights provided by the core–periphery model remains intact through-
Particularly for those studies which focus on London, this European
out this long post‐war era, important adjustments have occurred
and global city is seen as a place where a highly desirable young‐adult
through shifts in the migration status of several countries, such that
lifestyle can be experienced at a particular life‐stage of being young,
notions of semiperiphery and semicore become heuristically useful.
single, individualistic, ambitious, and open to new challenges. Along-
At the same time, we have seen the remaking of the new East–West
side opportunities to “escalate” their careers, interviewees and survey
migration and development divide along “orientalist” lines.
respondents speak of features such as openness, cosmopolitanism,
A related critique is the observation that core–periphery relations
multiculturalism, “high” and “popular” cultural attractions, and the
are mostly viewed through the lens of origin and destination regions
way that these place‐embedded features enable young migrants to
rather than through a migrant‐centred life‐chance perspective. Under
realise their potential before moving on to the next stage of life.
this analytical frame, migrants depart the periphery and build better
Hence, Korpela's phrase quoted at the start of this section is better
lives (in the long run and as long as exploitation is avoided) than they
expressed the other way round: the (urban) lifestyle becomes a “trip”
would have had if they had remained at home.
or “rite of passage” to adulthood.
The third theoretical frame was the newly‐launched Baumanian
idea of liquid migration, coined to capture the free‐flowing and open‐
ended nature of contemporary European migration, with its back‐
and‐forth waves of circular migration and swirling currents of onward
migration. The core behavioural feature of liquid migrants is their
This paper has proposed a wide‐ranging theoretical agenda. The intro-
stance of intentional unpredictability—an almost spontaneous willing-
duction set the scene of an enlarging Europe and its recent migration
ness to move as opportunities present themselves. But liquid migration
dynamics, with a special focus on intra‐European youth mobilities. It
is not without its emerging critiques, which mainly pointed to its
reviewed heterogeneous flows ranging from elite researchers and
overlooking of the increasing groundedness of young migrants' lives
high‐flying Eurostars to exploited and abused tomato pickers in Sicily
as they progress through the youth transition, which was the next the-
and set the key signposts charting the evolution of the European
oretical framework considered.
migration system since the end of the Cold War: the fall of the Iron
Analysis of the intersection between international migration and
Curtain, EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007 and the post‐2008 finan-
youth transitions was based initially on the understanding that youth
cial crisis.
is both a life stage of enhanced geographical mobility and also an inter-
The main part of the article presented five theoretical platforms
mediate life stage. The youth transition was seen as a twin process of
for understanding NEYM. These five frameworks are by no means an
becoming en route to adulthood and simultaneously of leaving youth
exhaustive selection, but they are the ones which appear to offer the
behind as a kind of unbecoming. Youth migration thus implies a doubly
greatest insight. What does each of these offer us which is distinctive?
liminal condition—migration itself and the youth transition. But, as
The neoliberal philosophy of free labour mobility has undoubtedly
youthful lifestyles are projected into older age cohorts, as individuals
made a contribution to understanding how migration enhances aggre-
in the Western world become seduced by the cult of youth, and as
gate economic efficiency and competitiveness in Europe, as well as
marriage/partnership, children, and the attainment of stable livelihoods
retexturing the ethnocultural geography of Europe's cities and regions.
become progressively delayed, the precise nature of the youth transi-
The neoliberal framework rests on long‐established foundations of
tion, especially when “dislodged” by migration, becomes increasingly
neoclassical economics and human capital theory, which have
blurred. Above all, the linearity of the youth transition has to be
underpinned much thinking about labour migration, arguing for overall
reanalysed via a range of temporalities and spatialities that are also
beneficial effects in terms of aggregate welfare. On the downside,
enfolded into the migration experience, including ruptures and
however, the existing evidence reveals other effects: poor labour mar-
ket and social integration of some migrants; deskilling, especially of
Finally, the relevance of the lifestyle migration approach was eval-
East‐to‐West migrants; the creation of a new migrant division of
uated. This involved reapplying the conventional conceptualisation of
labour to replace the European guestworker regime of 30–50 years
lifestyle migrants as the older, affluent middle‐classes who seek a “bet-
earlier; and the spectre of brain drain, depopulation, and output decline
ter life” in the countryside or seaside, amidst pleasant scenery and a
in the sending countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
warmer climate, to a different age‐group (young‐adults). The latter
10 of 12
migrates to a different geographical context (European cities), where
different lifestyle attractions (the “cosmopolitan vibe”, cultural attractions, and intense social contacts) act as a magnet.
None of the theoretical frames is sufficient in itself to fully
“explain” the NEYM, but taken in various combinations appropriate
to each of the types of migration (students, higher vs. lower skilled
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Beck, U., & Beck‐Gernsheim, E. (2002). Individualization. London: Sage.
Many thanks to Allan Williams, Aija Lulle, Laura Morosanu, and an
anonymous referee for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this
paper, which was written as part of the output of the Horizon 2020
YMOBILITY project (Grant agreement 649491).
Italian agriculture has for many years been reliant on migrant labour but,
fearful of being persecuted for hiring “illegal” immigrants from Africa,
farm owners have turned to hiring “legal” EU citizens, poor young women
from Romania, who, according to the Observer special report, work for
one‐third of the legal minimum wage. In Sicily's Ragusa province alone,
5,000 Romanian women are labouring in fields and greenhouses, enduring searing temperatures and exposure to chemical pesticides and sexual
abuse from local men.
In a somewhat analogous position to that reported for Sicily, in London
too, East Europeans have a particular dual positionality in the urban
labour market: advantaged by their “regular” EU status and as “white”
Europeans but disadvantaged by their exploitation in the low‐wage economy and willingness to “outbid” the wages of other workers in a Dutch‐
auction race to the bottom‐end wage level. For details see Wills et al.
(2010: 16, 104‐111).
One exception to this generalisation is the flows of international retirement and lifestyle migrants in Europe, where the source countries are
in the rich (but cold) North (UK, Germany, Sweden, etc.) and the destination countries are in the warm and sunny South (Spain, Portugal, Italy,
Cyprus, etc.). See Williams, King, and Warnes (1997) for an overview.
Another important part of de Haas' (2010) analysis is the distinction
between factors that lead to the creation of migration networks and systems and the much‐less‐often considered factors leading to their decline
and demise.
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Valencia, Istanbul, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and London. They represent a
mix of cultural, climatic, and student‐lifestyle factors. Cost‐of‐living
pushes London down the list to 10th place. These results also show that
for students, and probably also graduate migrants, it is the city rather
than the country which has to be taken into account.
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How to cite this article: King R. Theorising new European
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