Freedom of movement or assimilation: An exploratory case study of highly skilled EU15 citizens in Copenhagen

Laurence Meeus

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis examines the informal barriers experienced by highly skilled EU15 citizens (free movers) in Copenhagen. The focal point of the research is to gain a perspective on how free movers and Copenhagen co‐construct a unique framework for integration. In this optic both the free movers and Copenhagen are agents of potential informal barriers, given their respective characteristics. Through an exploratory case study the research seeks to investigate how free movers perceive Copenhagen and what informal barriers to integration they experience in Copenhagen. The research is based on empirical data of transcribed open‐ended semistructured interviews. Attention is drawn to the perceived informal barriers, but also to how the free movers own attitudes towards migration and settlement participate in the creation of informal barriers. An adductive approach, conceived as a dialectical relationship between theory and empirical data, is used in the thesis. The insight of the analysis of the interviews, combined with existing theoretical literature, is used to reflect on and develop these results in order to provide a perspective on the framework for integration of free movers in Copenhagen. This research shows that integration is the aggregate of complex processes. Free movers’ freedom of movement is an essential element of their mobility, which they seek to maintain upon migration. The integration that follows is affected by this element of mobility, as the free movers do not integrate to settle. Rather integration becomes a strategic mean to access quality of life. Consequently, they unconsciously avoid making the investments that integration requires and they are kept from fully enjoying the quality of life that Copenhagen has to offer. In order to access quality of life, free movers have to leave their small multicultural hub and integrate into the Danish society. During this process and in order to be accepted in the Danish society, they are subject to rather strong assimilatory pressures, which can be experienced as informal barriers.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages171