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

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Charles Harvey



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


How can we better understand the puzzle of low-skilled migrants who have acquired citizenship in a European Union (EU) country, often with generous social security provision, choosing to relocate to the United Kingdom (UK)? Drawing on Elias's figurational theory as a lens, we explore how relational interdependencies foster the mobility of low-skilled African European Citizens (AECs) from the EU states to the UK. We found that AECs 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 AECs opportunities to achieve labour market integration, exercise self-efficacy, and realize desired futures; anchoring individuals in existing communities even when they are perpetually transforming.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sarpong D, Maclean M, Harvey C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Relations

Year: 2024

Volume: 77

Issue: 2

Pages: 200-232

Print publication date: 01/02/2024

Online publication date: 07/01/2023

Acceptance date: 21/11/2022

Date deposited: 28/11/2022

ISSN (print): 0018-7267

ISSN (electronic): 1741-282X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/00187267221145423


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