Rights, Inclusion and Free Movement : Social Rights and Citizenship in the European Union

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Sociologiska institutionen


The free movement of persons in the EU has been fraught with tension since the Eastern enlargements. This culminated in 2016 when the UK demanded the possibility to limit rights and benefits to intra-EU migrants, making for a fresh investigation into the state of the free movement. From a constructivist perspective of rights and citizenship this in-depth case study aims to elucidate how EU actors describe the free movement of persons. It will further look at how they situate limitations and obstacles and analyze what this reflects in terms of underlying logics and rationales of rights and citizenship in the EU free movement regime. The interviews with EU actors reveal how distinctions of politically constructed categories of migrants which define Insiders and Outsiders are used to rationalize who has the right to social rights. Inclusion is defined in terms of market liberalism and individual responsibility, logics which thus also define the Insiders of Europe. This produces an image of the EU citizen and indirectly defines those who diverge from this image as Outsiders, including “lesser” Europeans. The underlying logics within the EU could therefore contribute to negative perceptions of those who cannot meet the requirements of the ideal European.

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