Relational interdependencies and the intra-EU mobility of African European Citizens


How can we better understand the puzzle of low-skilled migrants who have acquired citizenship in a European Union country, often with generous social security provision, choosing to relocate to the United Kingdom? Drawing on Elias’s figurational theory as a lens, we explore how relational interdependencies foster the mobility of low-skilled African European Citizens from European Union states to the United Kingdom. We found that African European Citizens rely on ‘piblings networks’, loose affiliations of putative relatives, to compensate for deficits in their situated social capital, facilitating relocation. The temporary stability afforded by impermanent bonds and transient associations, in constant flux in migrant communities, does not preclude integration but paradoxically promotes it by enabling an ease of connection and disconnection. Our study elucidates how these relational networks offer African European Citizens opportunities to achieve labour market integration, exercise self-efficacy, and realize desired futures; anchoring individuals in existing communities even when they are perpetually transforming

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