The Impact of Mobility on the Life Transitions of Young Emigrants from Post-Communist Bulgaria

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Siyka KOVACHEVA, University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
European youth policies encourage young people’s mobility as a measure raising their employability and more broadly, contributing to economic growth in the EU as a whole. However national policies in EU member states build upon an ambiguous understanding of the reasons and consequences of mobility and impose various power restrictions to the free movement, thus enhancing social inequality. While migrants from the new member states of Bulgaria and Romania have better prospects than migrants from outside the EU, they still face significant barriers in their labour market integration and social acceptance in the host countries.

This paper presents results from in-depth interviews with young adults aged up to 32 who emigrated from post-communist Bulgaria to look for work and better life prospects in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. The material was collected under the framework of a comparative study on mobility in Europe funded by the Horizon 2020 Program. A sub-sample of twelve interviews were examined to highlight the opportunities and constraints that the young immigrants in different mobility types faced in their life transitions in the four receiving countries with different migration regimes, labour markets and climate of reception. We consider their motivations to leave Bulgaria, the mobility channels they used, the strategies they employed in the job search and community integration. In the analysis, we focus on the agency-structure nexus and explore the social networks the young men and women created and mobilized along the way and how these impacted their identity construction.