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Title: Intra-European migration and identity : the case study of Germans living in the South-East of England
Author: Wlasny, Miriam
ISNI:       0000 0004 7657 238X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2018
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Capturing a snapshot of around the time of the 2015 general election, this research explored the motivations, experiences and thoughts of Germans living in the South-East of England regarding their decision to migrate and settle in the country. As lifestyle migrants, their motivations for moving to the UK - rather than being predominantly economic - are constitutive of an individualised pursuit of 'a better life'. Employment and education related reasons were as common among participants as personal life motivations like being with a loved one, and, likewise, a desire to experience life in a different culture. Their accounts of settling in the new environment are largely absent of serious difficulties, which is mostly due the cultural proximity of country of origin and destination, as well as the relatively high level of secondary (and in some cases tertiary) education they benefitted from before embarking on their migratory journey to the UK. Respondents displayed a strong desire to learn the 'British way of life' and blend in as much as they could by letting go of German habits and by purposefully not seeking out or associating with co-ethnics. Their ability to do so is attributed to their white, Western European privilege that provided them with the 'capital' to be able to visually blend in and have the necessary language skills not to depend on co-ethnics. Due to a perceived stigmatised national identity and a strong sense of unease regarding the 'slippery slope' of patriotism, most respondents identified more with transnational and local sources of identity rather than national ones. While this tendency is likely to stem from their nation's Nazi-past, their thoughts, convictions and self-reported behaviours suggest that they can be understood as part of a (possibly) relatively small, but symbolically significant emerging European civic culture facilitated by the European project of integration.
Supervisor: Redclift, Victoria ; Neal, Sarah ; Brooks, Rachel Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral