Legitimating intra-European movement discourses: understanding mobility and migration

Abstract

Free movement of people can be considered as a contested issue. While the European Commission stimulates a further ‘harmonization’ of citizen ‘mobility’, some member-states question the ‘burdens’ of ‘EU migration’. To understand these differences, it contains a multi-level focus on the meaning-making practices of policy actors at the European Commission and in the Netherlands. The analysis reveals a European legal discourse legitimated by expert authorization which differs with a Dutch national discourse legitimated by mythopoesis. As such, it displays the significance of a discursive approach since it shows the contested meaning-making practices and its policy consequences around intra-European movement.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    To not step into the migration or mobility discourse of the European Commission or a member-state, this neologism helps to better understand this issue and to create conceptual distance.

  2. 2.

    This is probably informed by a constitutive approach on discourse, which suggests that ‘actions and practices are constituted by concepts and beliefs’ (Connolly 1983, p. 36).

  3. 3.

    One Head of the Sector Free Movement of Workers; one policymaker at Social Security Coordination.

  4. 4.

    Thanks to Karin Zelano within the project IMAGINATION (www.project-imagination.eu).

  5. 5.

    ‘Metock’ refers to the European Court of Justice Decision on the rights of non-EEA country members who are married to an EEA citizen in the UK and is employed, self-employed or self-sufficient.

  6. 6.

    For aims of clearance, this is a different expert group than the Free movement of Workers Advisory Committee which from 2011 consists of governmental actors, trade union representatives and employers’ association representatives.

  7. 7.

    Their proactive stance is shown when they refer to the Commission as the ‘Guardian of the Treaties’ (SOLVIT).

  8. 8.

    After a period in which EU citizens were termed as ‘MOE-landers’ (which is a Dutch abbreviation of ‘Middle- and Eastern European-landers’). This label was used in the period 2003–2013; after 2013, it became abandoned, since most policy actors acknowledged that this label was not appropriate anymore.

  9. 9.

    Firstly, a managerial group structure (of political representatives); secondly, a steering group structure (of administrative supervisors); and thirdly, a working group structure (of administrative policymakers) were set up to collaborate and discuss issues regarding CEE migration.

  10. 10.

    This municipality network was a group of almost 80 municipalities which included 5 annual meetings.

  11. 11.

    'Act Exceptional Measures for Urban Problems’ (also called ‘the Rotterdam Act’).

References

  1. Anderson, B. 2010. Migration, immigration controls and the fashioning of precarious workers. Work, Employment and Society 24 (2): 300–317.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Asscher, L., and D. Goodhart. 2013. Code oranje voor vrij werkverkeer binnen de EU. De Volkskrant August 17, 2013.

  3. Austin, J.L. 1962/1975. How to do things with words. Lectures delivered at Harvard University at 1955, ed. J.O. Urmson and M. Sbisa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. Balch, A. 2010. Managing labour migration in Europe: Ideas, knowledge and policy change. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Béland, D. 2007. The social exclusion discourse: Ideas and policy change. Policy & Politics 35 (1): 123–139.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Berg, B., and H. Lune. 2004. Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Boston: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Berger, P., and T. Luckmann. 1966. The social construction of reality. New York: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bevir, M., and R. Rhodes. 2006. Defending interpretation. European Political Science 5: 69–83.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Blatter, J., and M. Haverland. 2012. Designing case studies: Explanatory approaches in small-N research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Blumer, H. 1969. Symbolic interactionism. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Boswell, C., and A. Geddes. 2011. Migration and mobility in the European Union. New York: Palgrave.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Callon, M., and B. Latour. 1981. Unscrewing the big Leviathan: How actors macro-structure reality and how sociologists help them to do so. In Advances in social theory and methodology, eds. K. Knorr-Cetina and A.V. Cicourel, 277–303. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Carrete, B.C., and D. Gasper. 2010. Managing migration in the IOM’s world migration report. Working Paper No. 498. The Hague: ISS.

  14. Connolly, W.E. 1983. The terms of political discourse. Oxford: Martin Robertson.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Daalder, H. 1984. On the origins of the consociational democracy model. Acta Politica 29 (1): 97–116.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Engbersen, G., A. Leerkes, I. Grabowska-Lusinska, E. Snel, and J. Burgers. 2013. On the differential attachments of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39 (6): 959–981.

    Google Scholar 

  17. European Commission. 2002. Free movement of workers-achieving the full benefits and potentials. COM 694. Brussels: EC.

    Google Scholar 

  18. European Commission. 2007. Mobility: an instrument for more and better jobs: European Job Mobility Action Plan 2007–2010. COM 773. Brussels: EC.

    Google Scholar 

  19. EY. 2014. Evaluation of the impact of free movement of EU citizens at local level—Final Report. Brussels: Ernst and Young.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Favell, A. 2008. The new face of East-West migration in Europe’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34 (5): 701–716.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Favell, A., and E. Recchi (eds.). 2010. Pioneers of European identity: Citizenship and mobility in the EU. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fisher, F. 2003. Framing public policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Fischer, F., and H. Gottweis. 2012. Introduction: The argumentative turn revisited. In The argumentative turn revisited, eds. F. Fischer and H. Gottweis, 1–30. London: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Forester, J. 1999. Deliberative practitioner. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Foucault, M. 1981. The order of discourse. In Untying the text. A post-structuralist reader, ed. R. Young. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Foucault, M. 1994. The order of things, archaeology of the human sciences. New York: Reissue.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Geddes, A., and P. Scholten. 2016. The politics of migration and immigration in Europe. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Gladwell, M. 2006. The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Boston: Little, Brown.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Glorius, B., I. Grabowska-Lusinska, and A. Rindoks (eds.). 2013. Mobility in transition: migration patterns after EU-enlargement. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Gottweis, H. 2003. Theoretical strategies of poststructuralist policy analysis: towards an analytics of government. In Deliberative policy analysis, ed. M. Hajer and H. Wagenaar, 247–265. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Hajer, M.A. 1995/1997. The politics of environmental discourse. New York: Oxford University Press.

  32. Hajer, M. 2003. A frame in the fields: Policymaking and the reinvention of politics. In Deliberative policy analysis: Understanding governance in the network society, 88–110.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hajer, M.A. 2005. Coalitions, practices, and meaning in environmental politics: From acid rain to BSE. In Discourse theory in European politics, eds. D. Howarth and J. Torfing, 297–315. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Hansen, P. 2015. Undermining free movement: Migration in an age of austerity. Eurozine. http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2015-02-06-hansenp-en.html. Accessed 25 Jan 2017.

  35. Hay, C., and B. Rosamond. 2002. Globalisation, European integration and the discursive construction of economic imperatives. Journal of European Public Policy. 9 (2): 147–167.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Hollander, J. 2013. The incoming tide: Dutch reactions to the constitutionalisation of Europe. Groningen: University of Groningen.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Howarth, D. 2000. Discourse. Buckingham: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Hundstorfer, R., K. Peeters, F. Rebsamen, A. Nahles, N. Schmit, L. Asscher, and Y. Johansson. 2015. Letter to Ms. Thyssen. Posting of workers Directive. June 18, 2015.

  39. Iosifides, T. 2013. Qualitative methods in migration studies: A critical realist perspective. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

  40. Joutsenvirta, M., and E. Vaara. 2009. Discursive delegitimation of a contested Finnish greenfield investment project in Latin America. Scandinavian Journal of Management 25: 85–96.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Lavenex, S. 2005. National frames in migration research: The tacit political agenda. In International migration research. Constructions, omissions and the promises of interdisciplinarity, eds. M. Bommes and E. Morawska, 243–264. Aldershot: Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Letter to Parliament. 2011. Vrij verkeer van werknemers uit de nieuwe EU lidstaten. 29407 (132) November 18, 2011.

  43. Lijphart, A. 1968. The politics of accommodation. Pluralism and democracy in the Netherlands. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Luhmann, N., and S. Fuchs. 1988. Tautology and paradox in the self-descriptions of modern society. Sociological Theory 6 (1): 21–37.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Menz, G., and A. Caviedes. 2010. Labour Migration in Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Mikl-Leitner, J., H.P. Friedrich, F. Teeven, and H.T. May. 2013. Letter to Alan Shatter, Presidency of European Council.

  47. Potter, J., and M. Wheterell. 1987. Discourse and social psychology. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Reding, V. 2013. Main message: Trieste citizens’ dialogue. Speech/13/706. European Commission, September 16, 2013. www.europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-13-706_en.htm.

  49. Roberts, M. 2018. Communication breakdown: Understanding the role of policy narratives in political conflict and consensus. Critical Policy Studies 12 (1): 82–102.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Rojo, M., and T. van Dijk. 1997. ‘There was a Problem, and it was Solved!’: Legitimating the expulsion of 'Illegal’ migrants in Spanish Parliamentary Discourse. Discourse and Society (8): 523–566.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Schmidt, V.A. 2008. Discursive institutionalism: The explanatory power of ideas and discourse. Annual Review of Political Science 11: 303–326.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Schmidt, V.A. 2011. Speaking of change: Why discourse is key to the dynamics of policy transformation. Critical Policy Studies 5 (2): 106–126.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Schmidt, V., and C. Radaelli. 2004. Conclusions. West European Politics 27 (2): 364–379.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Scholten, P., G. Engbersen, M. van Ostaijen, and E. Snel. 2018. Multilevel governance from below: How Dutch cities respond to intra-EU mobility. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (12): 2011–2033.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Scholten, P., and M. van Ostaijen. 2018. Between mobility and migration: The multi-level governance of Intra-European Movement. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Squire, V. ed. 2010. The contested politics of mobility: Borderzones and irregularity. Routledge.

  57. Thomas, W.I., and D.S. Thomas. 1928. The child in America: Behavior problems and programs. New York: Knopf.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Timmermans, S., and I. Tavory. 2012. Theory construction in qualitative research: From grounded theory to Abductive analysis. Sociological Theory 30: 167–186.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Torfing, J. 1999. New theories of discourse: Laclau, Mouffe and Zizek. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Vaara, E., B. Kleymann, and H. Seristö. 2004. Strategies as discursive constructions: The case of airline alliances. Journal of Management Studies 41: 1–35.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Vaara, E., and J. Tienari. 2008. A discursive perspective on legitimation strategies in multinational corporations. The academy of management review. 33 (4): 985–993.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Vaara, E., and J. Tienari. 2010. On the narrative construction of multinational corporations: An antenarrative analysis of legitimation and resistance in a cross-border merger. Organization Science 22 (2): 370–390.

    Google Scholar 

  63. van Dijk, T. 1997. Discourse as social interaction. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  64. van Leeuwen, T. 2007. Legitimation in discourse and communication. Discourse and Communication 1 (1): 91–112.

    Google Scholar 

  65. van Leeuwen, T., and R. Wodak. 1999. Legitimizing immigration control: A discourse-historical analysis. Discourse Studies 1 (1): 83–118.

    Google Scholar 

  66. van Ostaijen, M.M.A.C. 2017. Worlds between words. The politics of intra-European movement politics. Ridderprint: Ridderkerk.

    Google Scholar 

  67. van Ostaijen, M.M.A.C., U. Reeger, and K. Zelano. 2017. The commodification of mobile workers in Europe. A comparative perspective on capital and labour in Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden. Comparative Migration Studies 5 (6): 1–22.

    Google Scholar 

  68. van Ostaijen, M., and P. Scholten. 2014. Policy populism? Political populism and migrant integration policies in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Comparative European Politics 12 (6): 680–699.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Verheul, W.J. 2012. Stedelijke iconen. Boom: Den Haag.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Verloo, M. 2005. Mainstreaming gender equality in Europe. A critical frame analysis approach. The Greek Review of Social Research. 117 (B): 11–34.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Wagenaar, D. 2015. Meaning in action. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Warner, J., and A. Van Buuren. 2011. Implementing Room for the River: Narratives of success and failure in Kampen, the Netherlands. International Review of Administrative Sciences 77 (4): 779–801.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Wimmer, A., and N.G. Schiller. 2003. Methodological nationalism, the social sciences, and the study of migration: An essay in historical epistemology. International Migration Review 37 (3): 576–610.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Zuidervaart, B. 2010. Zelfs mislukte Polen blijven gewoon in Nederland. Trouw, November 01, 2010.

Download references

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Karin Zelano (Gothenburg University) in doing an important part of the fieldwork and sharing the interview transcripts for the purpose of this article.

Funding

This work was supported by the Joint Program Initiative Urban Europe under Grant Number 438-12-412 (IMAGINATION).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mark M. A. C. van Ostaijen.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

van Ostaijen, M.M.A.C. Legitimating intra-European movement discourses: understanding mobility and migration. Comp Eur Polit 18, 1–20 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-019-00152-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Discursive legitimacy
  • Discourse
  • Meaning-making
  • Migration
  • Mobility