9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN03 Biographical Perspectives on European Societies

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Euroidentities. The Evolution of European Identity: Using biographical methods to study the development of European identity I Building II, C2.02

Euroidentities: Transnational Workers in the European Union

Transnational workers in the European Union are those people whose labour market activity has resulted in a significant amount of cross-European experience. This category includes: economic migrants who has spent a significant portion of their life working abroad in another part of Europe, businessmen for whom cross border contacts and markets are essential, or people whose move for work-related reasons has led to making links in the ?host? country beyond those that are solely job-related. The preliminary findings of the research based on the detailed analysis of the autobiographical narrative interviews with transnational workers within the EU indicate that while some have used the structural opportunities of the European market to successfully proceed their professional careers (with higher wages or positions) others have been limited in their attempts to develop and maintain their social capital abroad. The former case concerns people who have moved to another European country with the intention of improving their economical situation or skills in the fields still deviating from European standards in their homelands. There are also people whose great need for adventure fuel their eagerness to travel, learn and discover. For them Europe usually provide an excellent chance for better life This line of biographical development is called a progressive (opening or stretching) biographical profile. The latter case refers to both unskilled and highly-skilled individuals having a strong desire for recognition and prestige (or aspiring for them) who have left their country of origin in order to flee or overcome their personal problems and experienced defeats. Yet settling in another country does not alleviate their predicament, quite the opposite results in loosing their relatively high social standing, shrinking professional opportunities and a consequent accumulation of difficulties and constrains. For them Europe rather block their biographical careers by means of illusory possibilities. Systematic atrophy of interaction networks, social bonds, spiritual sensitiveness as well as a systematic loss of life orientation ? paradoxically accompanied by personal economical success may follow. In order to describe this kind of biographical experience the notion of a regressive (closing or shrinking) biographical profile is applied.