Europeanisation or Globalisation? Cross-Border Mobilities and Everyday Transnationalism in Europe
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Europeanisation or Globalisation? Cross-Border Mobilities and Everyday Transnationalism in Europe

The panel will discuss recent initiatives to develop a systematic, empirical sociology of cross-border mobilities in Europe, in terms of everyday activities such as migration, travel, commuting, business, associations, friendship networks, study and retirement across borders within the EU. The expansive, liberalising decades of the 1990s and 2000s - partly as a result of European integration and partly due to broader globalising trends - saw an intensification of these "de-nationalised" lifestyles and social patterns across the continent. At the same time new patterns of social stratification emerged - dividing the mobile and immobile in society, in line with more general theories of migration, mobilty and transnationalism. Post 2008, however, there may be evidence of a "re-nationalisation" across Europe. Conceptually and methodologically these topics pose great questions to empirical sociology. However, there is also an urgent need for more grounded, data based evidence than provided by current social and critical theory. The panel will discuss the AU based EUCROSS project (, as well as other efforts to develop sociology in this field.


Martin D. Munk, Panu Poutvaara and Mette Foged: Elite Education Abroad and Social Reproduction

Especially individuals from affluent and socially privileged families are attracted to the Zones of Prestige including US and GB colleges, both elite and none-elite, but also to a minor degree to other countries, to pursue undergraduate or graduate studies. This is not totally a new phenomena, since in particular, privileged actors from small nations of Europe, where people are polyglot did that in the past too, but young people from a large number of countries directs their energy towards investments in educational capital, or more broadly cosmopolitan capital, outside their home country. The interesting question is whether migrants of this type differ from other college graduates at home or with respect to colleges abroad, like elite and non-elite institutions, and share the same type of preferences or even equipped with the same type of habitus? Our hypothesis is that relatively well-off young people recruited mainly from middle and upper class origins, but also from less privileged origins, do see themselves as living in a transnational world where they inhabit a wider social space and are likely to make the same “distinctions” with similar tastes, and therefore attracted to same zones of prestige, a trend that within the past ten years has been strengthened by an introduction of ranking of universities. For (some) groups the local hierarchies of prestige matter less than whether your kids go to prestigious colleges like Harvard or Oxford. If this transnational tendency is true we assume that these groups will contribute to new forms of stratification leading to other pathways of intergenerational transmissions of capital. The vast majority of existing social stratification literature was developed at a time when few people left their nations for education, so our contribution is to broaden out the literature. In particular, we are focusing on permanent emigrants from Denmark who have lived abroad for more than five years and who all graduated from a foreign program during the period of 1987-2002. Previous research has shown that family background still plays a role in educational choices, especially when it comes to elite education. We examine how family background affects the likelihood of graduating in an elite or non-elite college abroad. We use two unique surveys of Danish emigrants and census (register) data on full population. Overall, we find that children with highly educated and positioned parents are more likely to seek distinctive educational capital at colleges abroad and in Denmark. The difference is especially pronounced in elite education abroad. Also, around half of those pursuing (elite?) education abroad have parents who have studied or worked abroad. Hence, people pursuing international elite education have considerable cosmopolitan capital and a mindset for operating abroad. Father’s education plays a bigger role for men while mother’s education plays a bigger role for women, especially among women going for elite education. When we asked respondents why they studied abroad, especially men highlighted academic level and prestige. For one third of women, partner was an important consideration.

Adrian Favell and David Reimer: The Europeanisation of Everyday Life: Cross-Border Practices and Transnational Identifications Among EU and Third-Country Citizens

This paper illustrates the research questions the main underlying concepts as well as the research design of the recently initiated EUCROSS project (funded by the European Union under the FP7 framework). The project, which is essentially a comparative study of Denmark, Germany, Italy, Romania Spain, Turkey and the UK examines the relationship between the manifold activities of EU residents (nationals, mobile EU citizens, and third country nationals) across the borders of nation states and their collective identities.

Specifically, the project intends to: 1) map out individuals’ cross-border practices as an effect of European integration and globalisation; 2) assess the impact of these practices on collective identifications. Which cross-border practices are more likely to foster some form of identification with the EU – e.g., contacts with foreign friends and/or unwanted foreigners, periods of labour mobility abroad, business and tourist travel, or consumer relations with international companies? Under which contextual and individual conditions do these experiences promote a higher sensitivity to ‘Europe’ – rather than the ‘local’ or the ‘global’ – as an identity catalyst? Which social groups are more prone to adopt a European mindset in the wake of the Europeanisation of everyday life? In addressing these questions, we use the concepts of ‘Europeanisation’, ‘European identity’, ‘cross-border practices’ and ‘cosmopolitanism’ drawing on and elaborating from their meaning in the contemporary social science literature – and especially in sociology, anthropology, political science and social psychology.

R. J. Naylor and M. A. Mahadeo: “Age Knows No Borders”: Wither ethno-national identities on the Irish border?

State borders are ‘key sites’ in relation to questions of identity (Bottos and Rougier 2006, Todd et al 2005). The Irish border became significant in symbolic and practical terms in 1923. The imposition of customs’ duties led to control over the movement of people and goods between the jurisdictions. The 1970s Troubles brought increasing militarisation rendering cross-border travel more difficult. Since the ceasefires and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the border has become increasingly “invisible” in practical terms. Cross-border travel for work, study, leisure and shopping is now common as is inter-governmental cooperation.

Donnan and Simpson (2007) argue that groups tend to maintain the status even in the face of major change, speaking particularly of Protestant Unionist/Loyalist identity in Northern Ireland. Donnan (2010) draws on ethnography with “Border Protestants” where the border, “stood as a tangible representation of what differentiated ‘us’, the border Protestants, from ‘them’, border Catholics and Republicans” (2010: 256). Anything weakening the border generates “uncertainty and anxiety” (ibid). This may help account for the current political situation which Donnan labels “not war-not peace” (citing Sluka 2009).

On the other hand, Nash and Reid (2010) describe the Irish border region as a place which holds the possibility of the development of a new, shared identity. They suggest that changes to the border since the ceasefires enable a cross-cutting, shared identity, of ‘border people’ to develop (ibid: 278).

The contrasts in these stances relate partly to differences in constituencies and localities studied, research methods and periods covered. As Anderson noted in 2006, research findings should not be accepted as generally applicable along the border, across time nor throughout different socio-economic groups. One socio-economic influence is likely to be generation. The focus on different generations’ perspectives on the Irish border is becoming a fruitful research subject (Bottos and Rougier 2006: 618).

Our work reports on secondary analysis by the authors of 2010 data from a community research project looking at perspectives on the border across three generations at Fermanagh/Donegal. We report on variations in perspectives on identities and border meanings across the generations which indicate both the promise of a new cross-border identity and a resurgence of “polarisation” amongst the young. We argue that whilst there may be many factors influencing these differences, including cultural globalisation and Europeanization, “local” ethnonational and territorial factors are also likely to remain significant.

Janne M. Solgaard Jensen: Cross-Border Mobilities and Everyday Transnationalism in Europe

The practices of mobility and transnationality made possible via the rights of European citizenship, are central examples of how the EU politically has broadened the scope of ordinary citizens’ social practices beyond the nation-state in Europe. However, these practices may or may not promote European integration or serve the legitimacy of the EU. The linkage between Europeanized practices and conscious identification with the EU, is not at all straightforward, and these kinds of transnational practices are often mixed with other kinds of international and global connections and identifications. Our broader project calls for a new understanding of what it means to be European: namely that political consciousness through support and knowledge about the EU, is not what constitutes the shared European space, but rather action or interactions, choices and use of new opportunities. In my work, I focus on the concept of mobility in the Danish context combining both different forms of physical movement and locally rooted experiences. Hence, locality is understood as the frame for everyday values, norms and cultural history that shapes people’s perceptions of intra-EU mobility and transnational social experiences. These questions are to be investigated with a case study of the experiences and intentions of mobility of high school students at an early stage of international education in Aarhus. The informants for this project are both local and also potentially mobile in their primary self-perception, and are therefore affected by a certain location as well as mobility. The native no longer remain stationary, neither physical nor mentally; location and mobility need not be binary-oppositions. Therefore, mobilities and transnational social experiences should not be treated as processes of dislocation, but rather as new forms of relocation of people’s identification and belongings. On the basis of explorative fieldwork, I will investigate why young students have chosen an international educational profile as well as a mapping of their social profile and motivations in order to understand their background, self-perception and ideas about the question of locality versus the international/global setting of their education. Using qualitative methods, especially focus group interviews, I aim to foreground the narration of these experiences and perceptions, and as a result, go beyond ordinary questionnaires and surveys about European identity which tend to focus on political knowledge about the EU, and nationality versus European identity in simplified ways. The paper aims to broaden our knowledge of how EU, globalisation and internationalisation are discursively constructed as either similar or separate processes in our everyday life through discussion of ordinary, indeed banal forms of nationalism and transnationalism.

Nicole Landeck: Troubled European Identities – Identity Framing in National Media Discourses

News coverage of the European debt crisis indicates different identifications with the European Union as a community, for example in pleading for the harmonization of national fiscal policies or in neglecting Europe as a transfer union. While some researchers question the potential of public discourses for creating or strengthening a common European identity (Banducci, Karp & Semetko, 2007), others like Eilders and Lichtenstein (2010) exemplify that European collective identities are constructed in national media discourses. Media discourses, therefore, function as an intermediate public sphere connecting both European identities as an outcome of framing public discourses on European politics as well as common European identities as a fundamental source of EU input legitimacy (Scharpf, 1999). Moreover, conflicts and crisis communication, in particular, can also foster vertical and horizontal Europeanization as well as identifications with the European Union (Wessler et al. 2008) by confirming or re-defining common values and group membership, for example of the European Monetary Union. In this context, framing – in accordance with Entman (1993) – hence can be understood as the process of selecting some aspects of the nationally perceived reality of European integration (e.g. referring to different types of European group membership like being a founding member state of the European Community or a member of the European Monetary Union) and making these aspects of national and/or European identity more salient in media discourses on European issues. Competitive framing of Europe as an “imagined community” (Anderson, 1983) – in contrast to or as part of the discursive construction of national identities – might turn out as a key factor for the discursive construction of collective European identities, focusing on different national perceptions and evaluations of the European Union or European integration, but also on people’s everyday experiences with cross-border travel, study, or business in Europe. On the methodological level, the paper proposes an integration of framing analyses of media discourses constructing European identities both in contexts of routine communication and crisis communication. These results need to be combined, secondly, with surveys including data on media repertoires, and, thirdly, with multi-level analyses using longitudinal content analyses on European news coverage and survey data on attitudes towards the EU in order to evaluate possible long-term effects of media coverage on identification with the European project or European feelings of belonging.


Adrian Favell, Professor of European and International Studies, Aarhus University

Janne Marie Solgaard Jensen, Ph.d.-student, Department of History and Area Studies, Aarhus University.

David Reimer, Post.Doc., Department of Education - Centre for Research in Compulsory Schooling, Aarhus University.

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Panel 1

Favell, Adrian and David Reimer: The Europeanisation of Everyday Life: Cross-Border Practices and Transnational Identifications Among EU and Third-Country Citizens

Munk, Martin D. and Panu Poutvaara and Mette Foged: Elite Education Abroad and Social Reproduction

Jensen, Janne Solgaard: Europeanisation of Everyday Life: An Exploratory Case Study of High School Students in Early International Education

Discussant: Hans-Joerg Trenz

Panel 2

Landeck, Nicole: Troubled European Identities – Identity Framing in National Media Discourses

Naylor, Rachel J. and Michael A. Mahadeo: “Age Knows No Borders”: Wither Ethno-National Identities on the Irish Border?

Discussant: Hans-Joerg Trenz

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Revised 2012.01.17