Advances in Applied Sociology
2012. Vol.2, No.2, 120-126
Published Online June 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Middle Class International Migration: French Nationals Working
in the UK
Rueyling Tzeng
Institute of European and American Studies, Ac ademia Sinica, Taipei, Chinese Taipei
Received March 7th, 2012; revised April 10th, 2012; accepted April 28th, 2012
International migration researchers have generally focused on either high-level managers and specialists
working for multinational corporations, or laborers and blue collar workers who move from developing to
developed countries. But international migration patterns are clearly more diverse in composition and
structure. Middle class workers who voluntarily leave their home countries in search of white collar posi-
tions represent one under-researched group. The few international migration studies that have been con-
ducted for this group have focused on workers from English-speaking countries. This research will con-
centrate on a significant number of French speakers (up to one-half million), mostly under the age of 35,
who have crossed the English Channel to live and work in the United Kingdom. I will examine the
mechanisms that facilitate such migration, the kinds of jobs these migrants perform, and how their migra-
tion fits in with their long-term employment plans. The majority of French migrants are strongly career-
oriented, unlike many of their counterparts from English-speaking countries who emphasize self-realiza-
tion and exploration. I also explore the question of why EU migration from non-EU countries still exceeds
intra-EU migration.
Keywords: Self-Initiated Expatriates; Highly Skilled Migrants; Middle Class Migration; UK; French
International migration researchers have generally focused
on either high-level managers and specialists working for mul-
tinational corporations, or laborers and blue collar workers who
move from developing to developed countries (Conradson &
Latham, 2005). Urban studies researchers have tended to con-
centrate on how global cities serve as focal points for polarized
international migration (Sassen, 1991). Generally missing are
studies on middle class workers who voluntarily leave their
home countries in search of white collar employment. This
group exemplifies how international migration patterns have
become more diverse in terms of composition and structure.
Many national economies, especially those in more deve-
loped countries, offer more broadly distributed opportunities for
their middle class citizens to migrate across international bor-
ders (Favell et al., 2006). Since 1993, member states of the
European Union (EU) have given their citizens the freedom to
migrate to other EU countries in search of jobs, thus making
international mobility outside of t ransnational corporations much
more accessible for middle class workers. The most mobile EU
citizens are young, single, and well-educated; students com-
prise a large percentage of this group (Favell, 2008; Fouarge &
Ester, 2009; Zimmermann, 2009).
London, a global city and financial center, is a prime exam-
ple of a polarized urban center with large numbers of service-
based businesses at both the top and bottom levels of its eco-
nomy (Sassen, 1991). In addition to wealthier EU states, it is
also attracting large numbers of young, educated middle class
migrants from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US
(Conradson & Latham, 2005; Favell, 2008). However, resear-
chers have generally neglected the impacts of English as the
dominant global language, plus various institutional factors
such as economic systems and cultural norms, on the interna-
tional migratory experiences and intentions of middle class
Middle Class International Migration
In Western countries, multinational company executives,
upper managers, and other economic elites have significantly
more opportunities to acquire social, cultural, and economic
capital via overseas experience in support of their professional
careers. They are now being joined in international migration
by a growing number of middle class Westerners. Conradson
and Latham (2005) describe these workers as well-educated and
motivated to find professional positions. Even though many
organizations state an interest in workers who have interna-
tional experience, they generally do a poor job of helping their
employees gain such experience, therefore a growing number
of middle class Westerners are pursuing it on their own, creat-
ing boundary-less rather than corporate careers (Inkson, 2006;
Banai & Harry, 2004; Stahl et al., 2002). In the management
literature, these workers are referred to as self-initiated expa-
triates, as opposed to company-assigned expatriates (Howe-
Walsh & Schyns, 2010; Inkson et al., 1997; Jokinen et al., 2008;
Suutari & Brewster, 2000; Vance, 2005).
For a growing number of Westerners, self-initiated foreign
assignments represent a more attractive strategy than corporate
overseas assignments for knowledge acquisition and individual
enrichment (Inkson et al., 1997). In addition, pursuing an over-
seas experience—commonly referred to as OE—is increasingly
popular among Western youth because they perceive it as fun,
challenging, and supportive of personal growth. As Amit (2002)
notes, international borders are easily traversed by Western
youth or professionals who are adventurous, who have a desire
to escape their settled lives via travel, and who are willing to
take advantage of short-term contractual employment and tem-
porary work visas.
Three kinds of motivation account for most middle class in-
ternational migration activity: career paths, lifestyle preferences,
and relationships (Scott, 2006). There is considerable blending
in the first two groups, which I will refer to as career seekers
and lifestyle pursuers, respectively. For the first, international
migration is viewed as a way to develop a professional career
while at the same time exploring personal growth. For indi-
viduals in the second group, travelling, self-realization and
experiencing different cultures comes first, and if they decide
later to pursue careers, the time spent overseas adds value to
their resumes (Conradson & Lathams, 2005). A large number
of lifestyle pursuers are college students or those recently
Some researchers now view international migration as a
“normal” activity for Western middle class workers rather than
something exclusively confined to upper-level managers and
executives (Amit, 2002; Conradson & Latham, 2005; Scott,
2006). International mobility has gained stature as a way of
lifestyle for middle class workers to distinguish themselves, and
is therefore becoming an increasingly important factor in re-
producing middle class identity (Scott, 2006). Conradson and
Latham (2005) further describe how New Zealand has formed a
national culture of mobility in which thousands of young pro-
fessional citizens move overseas for a period of time for self-
development; other countries that have similar cultures are
Canada, Australia, and South Africa. While I acknowledge the
extent of this international migration trend among Western
middle class white collar workers, I contend that the lifestyle
and personal growth motivations have been overemphasized.
The primary focus of most research on Western middle class
international migration to date has been on workers from Eng-
lish-speaking countries such as the US, UK, Australia, New
Zealand, and Canada, with a few studies conducted on white
collar workers from South Africa. Since English is currently the
primary medium of political, academic, and business commu-
nication in the world (Crystal, 2003), it is much easier for mid-
dle class workers from these countries to cross borders and find
jobs that require English skills, including moderately or well-
paid English teaching jobs (Tzeng, 2010). The ease with which
English speakers can find jobs in foreign countries likely makes
travelling option more attractive than pursuing professional
careers in their home countries. Since border crossing is more
challenging for middle class workers from non-English speak-
ing countries, my goal was to identify home and host country
mechanisms that facilitate international migration. I have cho-
sen the movement of French middle class workers to the UK
(especially to London) as an example.
I conducted in-depth interviews with French nationals in
London in 2009, plus analyzing secondary data. Due to time
limitations,1 I mainly performed what Flick (2009) refers to as
“expert interviews” with three high-level managers in three
French organizations based in London, plus interviews with
three middle class French migrants. According to Flick, expert
interviews are aimed at gathering data on a specific group of
individuals who may have special insights due to their status,
position, or experience. These individuals represent a group ra-
ther than a single instance of expertise. In fieldwork, specially
targeted experts are commonly used as sources of information
on topics in which a researcher has no experience. In terms of
sampling methodology, expert interviews are considered an
example of critical case sampling, in which a small number of
important cases are likely to yield the most information and
have the greatest impact on knowledge development (Flick,
2009; Patton, 2002).
The three London-based organizations in which my expert
interviewees work have made significant contributions to the
movement of young French middle class migrants to that city.
The first, the Employment Office of the French Consulate in
London, helped French citizens with university degrees, rele-
vant job experience, and good English skills to find profes-
sional jobs in the UK.2 The other two organizations are the
Centre Charles Péguy (CCP) and Centre d’Echanges Interna-
tionaux Ltd. (CEI). The CCP is a charity trust created in 1954
by the Marist priests of the Notre Dame de France Church in
Leicester Square; its original purpose was to reinforce links
between English and French communities in London. Since
1982, it has been subsidized by the French Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, and its current objective is helping young French peo-
ple between the ages of 18 and 30 find jobs and living accom-
modations in Great Britain, especially London. CEI was estab-
lished in France in 1947 to promote exchanges between young
people of different nationalities and cultures. In London, the
two organizations perform similar functions, although CEI also
offers English language courses and helps French students find
internships. Both the CCP and CEI charge annual membership
fees for clients, but do not charge employers who use their ser-
vice. CEI guarantees its clients at least one job interview
(mostly with hotels and restaurants) within two weeks of their
arrival, and provides interview coaching. CCP is more limited
in terms of what it offers, but it does provide access to a more
diverse range of jobs, including administrative and sales posi-
tions; still, approximately one-half of its openings are in res-
taurants or hotels. According to the CCP, there are often more
job openings than qualified applicants, with English fluency an
important factor in terms of filling positions.
Since there is potential for expert interviews to produce lim-
ited, selective, and biased data (Flick, 2009), I interviewed
experts from different organizations to maximize the range of
information, as well as for purposes of cross-validation and
triangulation. In addition, I interviewed three French middle
class workers who initiated their own moves to London: a male
employee in a French bank and a female working for the
French Economic Commission in London,3 both single and in
their late 20s; and a woman in her mid-forties who is married to
a British national, who has lived in London for 13 years, and
who runs an employment recruitment company with a business
partner. Thus, the primary limitation of this research is the
2The Employment Office was closed in August 2009 becaus e it was consi-
dered redundant to local job centers and EURES (European Em
Services). Two former employees of the Employment Office immediately
started a recruitment company called French Resources.
3The male first worked for an American bank, and the female worked for a
British trading company.
1I had to abruptly return to Taiwan due to a family emergenc y.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 121
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
small sample size and narrow range of employment types. Still,
I obtained sufficient information to analyze how national insti-
tutions facilitate international migration, as well as to identify
general patterns among French citizens who move to the UK as
temporary migrants.
French Citizens in London
The number of EU citizens migrating to other member states
increased an average of 10% per year between 2002 and 2006
(Herm, 2008). Also during that same period, the number of
non-EU citizens immigrating to EU countries exceeded the
number of EU citizens migrating across EU borders. Geo-
graphic and cultural proximity and shared language are impor-
tant factors in international migration, which explains the sig-
nificant movement of citizens between Ireland and Britain,
Finland and Sweden, and Germany and Austria (ibid.). The two
countries in this study are unique in that they do not share a
common language, and have many differences in terms of cul-
ture and both economic and political institutions. Records of
French citizens moving to London go as far back as the 1550s,
when large numbers of French Huguenots crossed the Channel
to escape persecution by the Catholic Church. London is con-
sidered Europe’s most international city, as well as the EU’s
capital in terms of finance, information technology, and media
(Favell, 2008). With a strong economy, a long list of cultural
attractions, and an open social environment, London continues
to attract immigrants from all over the world, and its economic
success is increasingly dependent on foreign-born labor (Wills
et al., 2009). The proportion of foreign-born workers through-
out the UK increased from 7% to 13% between 1993 and 2008;
the increase in London during the same period was 25% to
London also continues to attract young Europeans interested
in learning or polishing their skills in English (Favell, 2006),
which is perceived as enhancing their long-term career pros-
pects (Kennedy, 2010). Many Europeans with university educa-
tions are willing to take low-level service sector jobs, especially
in the hospitality industry, just to be able to live in London
(Bellion, 2005; Favell, 2008). Note the following text from the
website of Pret, a fast food chain in the UK: “We employ many
different nationalities, and value the cosmopolitan feel this
gives the company.” Model’s (2002) assertion that employers
in global cities prefer hiring foreign-born Caucasians among all
immigrants is supported by London employers’ preferences for
Western Europeans. By working in the food service sector,
young Europeans receive modest wages in return for London
residency and its associated social benefits. In return, employ-
ers benefit from a workforce with significant amounts of human,
social, and economic capital (Favell, 2008).
According to the UK Office for National Statistics, France is
just behind Ireland as the source of the largest number of wes-
tern European foreigners living in the UK and London (Table
1), but the number of citizens of Poland (considered an eastern
EU country) living in the UK is significantly higher than the
number of French nationals, which supports Braun and Rec-
chi’s (2009) assertion that the addition of eastern European
countries to the EU since 2004 triggered a revival of traditional
blue collar migration due to extreme wage differences between
Eastern and Western Europe. It can also be viewed as further
evidence that the UK economy is by far the most dynamic in
Europe. In spite of the significantly higher (and increasing) cost
of living in the UK, many French citizens are attracted by its
dynamic economy and labor market flexibility, which supports
worker-initiated changes in careers and jobs (Bellion, 2005;
Fevell, 2008; Hall & Soskice, 2001). In comparison, France’s
management selection system and bureaucratic workplace or-
ganization reduces opportunities for job movement (Hancké,
2006). Moreover, the UK’s relatively low start-up costs and
more open regulatory environment have encouraged French
companies or individuals to set up subsidiaries or independent
companies (Pissarides, 2006), thus creating jobs for French
citizens living in the UK.
According to official figures from the UK government, the
number of French nationals living in London between July
Table 1.
Estimated populations of United Kingdom residents for the six most common countries of origin (in thousands).
Country United Kingdom
7/2009 - 6/2010 7/2008 - 6/2009 7/2007 - 6/2008 7/2006 - 6/2007 2006 2005
Rank Estimate Rank EstimateRankEstimateRankEstimateRank Estimate Rank Estimate
Poland 1 541 1 503 1 458 2 336 3 246 3 136
Ireland 2 342 2 344 2 346 1 341 1 354 1 359
India 3 322 3 310 3 290 3 273 2 263 2 222
Pakistan 4 165 4 183 4 169 6 127 6 110 7 101
USA 5 150 5 136 5 127 5 127 5 119 4 118
France 6 122 6 125 6 111 4 129 4 122 5 103
Poland 1 131 1 116 1 110 3 82 3 73 3 56
India 2 111 3 93 3 92 2 101 2 86 2 74
Ireland 3 100 2 110 2 101 1 102 1 108 1 115
France 4 67 4 72 4 61 4 72 4 62 4 50
ote: Source: UK Office for National Statistics (2011).
2009 and June 2010 was approximately 67,000, and in the en-
tire country approximately 122,000 (Table 1); neither figure
includes almost 13,000 university students. However, several of
my informants believe that the actual numbers are much
higher—approximately 500,000 in the UK and 250,000 - 300,000
in London alone, with most under the age of 35. Thus, the
London Macadam media company describes itself as “targeting
300,000 French people in London.” This explains Favell’s
(2008) assertion that London may be the world’s fourth largest
French city after Paris, Lyon, and Marseilles. According to the
French consulate, up to 400,000 of London’s 7.6 million resi-
dents are French citizens, possibly making them the largest
minority nationality in the city (“The French,” 2011).
Problems with accurately measuring French populations in
London and the UK are similar to those for recording all migra-
tion within the EU (Braun & Recchi, 2009; Favell & Recchi,
2009; Zimmermann, 2009). Due to the shortage of transnational
surveys, data on EU migration are incomplete and contradictory.
One finds inconsistencies in statistics-gathering procedures,
differences in national residence registration systems, and re-
luctance to report migration figures to other EU member states.
Zimmermann (2009) therefore claims that EU migration can
only be observed in micro-level segments. Favell (2008) further
points out that many French migrants only stay in London
temporarily, and according to Bellion (2005), two-thirds of
French expatriates in the UK at any time never register with
their consulates because their plans are to gain short-term in-
ternational job experience or to study English. According to one
interviewee, “France and the UK are so close, it’s not like go-
ing overseas. [London] is just two hours from Paris. Taking a
train to another country is like commuting to another city.” He
also offered this explanation for why French citizens enjoy
staying in the UK:
It’s a country with a long history, yet you still have room
to be different. Being different here is not a handicap. In
the UK, especially in London, you’ve got people of all
colors, coming from India, from America, from all over
the world. And they’re represented everywhere in society,
which is less the case in France.
English Skills and Career Prospects
According to my interviewees, geographical approximation
and open social environment are secondary to “professional
stays” as the primary motivation for French citizens to move to
London. This category includes jobs, internships, and activities
such as learning or improving English skills, which is viewed
as central to long-term career plans. French students have lower
English proficiency compared to students in Germany, the Ne-
therlands, and Scandinavian countries. According to my infor-
mants, the reason is the emphasis on traditional teaching ap-
proaches and cultural values over language skills, despite the
fact that English instruction begins in elementary school. This
may change, since English has become the dominant global
language, and many jobs in France now require English profi-
ciency. Even for jobs that do not require English, fluency may
be cited as a reason to hire or promote one job candidate over
another. French companies are also increasingly interested in
applicants who have overseas work experience. As one inter-
viewee told me, “You can find a good job [in France] after
spending a couple of years abroad.”
The majority of French citizens move to the UK either during
college (between the ages of 18 and 21) or immediately fol-
lowing graduation (between the ages of 22 and 25); a small
percentage attend UK universities. A large number of French
schools and universities have overseas internship requirements,
and London is a favored English-speaking destination among
applicants. Other students move to London at the end of the
school year, and spend the summer working in restaurants, bars,
or small shops before returning to university in September.
Students who arrive in London in January are generally taking
extended leaves from their studies, with plans to return to
school after six months. I was told that the French school sys-
tem is very bureaucratic, and that students cannot make any
changes in their class schedules once they register. Instead of
taking classes they have little interest in, they may move to
London temporarily to gain some work experience and improve
their English. In September or October, another group of tem-
porary migrants can be observed moving to the UK to spend a
“gap year” before returning to France to continue with ad-
vanced studies or to find permanent employment. Others in this
group move to the UK because they cannot find jobs in France,
or because they want to start their careers with international
experience in order to earn better positions in France upon their
return. With the exception of bank employees, few members of
this group expect to earn a great deal of money during their
time in the UK.
Jobs performed by young French people in the UK vary ac-
cording to planned length of stay and English proficiency.
Those with the most basic English skills often work in behind-
the-scenes food service jobs until their English is sufficient for
working with the public. Other jobs that do not require strong
English skills include teaching/tutoring French, serving as nan-
nies or au pairs, and working in childcare centers. There are
many examples of young French migrants with degrees in mar-
ketable majors such as engineering who work in kitchens and
spend much of their free time working on their language skills.
This can trigger frustration in an ambitious young person, but
as a recruiting agent pointed out:
Would you prefer working as a kitchen worker in an Eng-
lish language environment, or as a sales assistant in a
French shop? Working as a commis waiter with French
colleagues but without any contact with customers in a
French restaurant is not really an efficient way to improve
your languages skills. What’s the best—having expe-
rience in your field but within a French environment, or
finding a job not related to your studies but that allows
you to improve your English?
I was told that French language skills are downplayed even
in large French firms operating in the UK. Many of these firms
tend to hire British employees, especially in the banking and
finance sectors. Within the past decade, a growing number of
French companies with subsidiaries or branch offices in the UK
have stopped paying expatriate bonuses for employees sent
from France in favor of recruiting French nationals who already
live there, especially those with strong English skills. Depend-
ing on their other qualifications and credentials, French citizens
with good English and presentation skills can find clerical, sales,
business development, or administrative jobs in British com-
panies. A prized position among bilingual French workers is in
an import/export firm that does business with agents in the
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 123
English- or French-speaking regions such as North America or
West Africa. I was told that trade companies in the UK find it
easier to hire native French speakers with strong business Eng-
lish skills than British employees with sufficient French lang-
uage skills.
Opportunity versus Security
Many French migrants view the UK as more market- and
sales-oriented than their home country, and as a place that en-
courages entrepreneurs. Some call Great Britain “UK PLC
[Private Limited Company],” implying that the country resem-
bles a large corporate enterprise, one with a labor market that
emphasizes dynamism rather than stability. I was told that UK
labor market characteristics are the result of greater competition
plus flexibility in employment contracts. One interviewee stated
that French employers are much more concerned about the
specifics of educational backgrounds, and that promotions are
much harder to earn in France. First-time French employees
must complete internships for one year, followed by a series of
short contracts. In contrast, UK employers are more likely to
offer permanent positions based on perceived skills and moti-
vation, and to give young employees responsibility as a test of
their abilities. I heard one opinion that in the UK, an individual
without a college degree can still achieve high levels of respon-
sibility and pay, based on a willingness to work hard. In the
words of one interviewee, “Here you go to the Gap [a multina-
tional clothing retailer], you start as a sales assistant, you prove
yourself, and you can become an assistant manager within six
In the UK, private firm employees who do not perform well
are likely to be fired. I was told that employers in France are
very careful about employee selection because labor laws make
it very hard to fire workers once they are hired, even if their job
performance is poor. According to one interviewee, French
citizens who are more concerned about job security than any-
thing else do whatever they can to get jobs in government:
A few years ago there was a survey of young French peo-
ple about what kinds of careers they wanted. The results
were terrifying: 70 percent said they wanted to become
civil servants because they wanted secure jobs. You don’t
need a business degree to be a civil servant!
In the succinct words of another informant, “In the UK you
have more opportunity, but in France you have more security.”
As shown in Table 1, the number of French citizens living
and working in the UK fell during the 2007-2008 global finan-
cial crisis. It is reasonable to assume that many French returned
to their home country for security, yet some of my interviewees
argued that even during the recession, the UK economy was
still more dynamic than France’s, and that during the crisis,
French citizens in the UK were more likely than their counter-
parts in France to quickly find employment if they were laid off
from their current jobs. Although the number of French mi-
grants in the UK and London increased after the global finan-
cial crisis, the number from July 2009 to June 2010 was less
than that for the preceding twelve months (Table 1). It is un-
known how this number was affected by the shutdown of the
Employment Office of the French Consulate in London in Au-
gust 2009.
For most French migrants, the average stay in the UK is 1 - 5
years. Only a small percentage stays permanently, with many in
that category marrying British or other nationals living in Great
Britain. Upon their arrival, most look for jobs that will help
them practice their English. After one year, they look for jobs
that will give them the kinds of experience that might impress
future employers. Those who marry generally face the impor-
tant “leave-or-stay” decision after 8 - 12 years of residency. If
the spouse is a British citizen or a non-French foreigner, the
couple is more likely to stay in the UK if the non-French
spouse cannot speak sufficient French for employment pur-
poses. If the spouse is French, there is a much higher probabi-
lity of returning to France.
There are considerable benefits for those who do return to
France, especially in terms of cost-of-living: the UK is far more
expensive. The UK health care program has a reputation for
long waits and questionable care, which is not the case in
France. Retired French workers have much better pensions than
their UK counterparts. In terms of children’s education, many
French people believe that UK state schools are not nearly as
good as those in France. Many junior high school students in
the UK have poor reading and math skills. Education in France
is much cheaper compared to the UK, and nursery schools in
the UK are not subsidized in the same way as they are in France,
adding a considerable expense to raising a ch ild.
Move-or-stay decisions are greatly dependent on the life
stage of the decision-maker. As one interviewee told me:
When we come here we are young, twenty-something or
in our early 30s, and more career-oriented. What we want
is to work, earn money, enjoy ourselves—you know, “I’m
in London, it’s fun!” We don’t think about security until
we get to 35, 40. And then we go back to France for secu-
rity when we have a fa mily.
Another added, “It may be more secure in France in terms of
job regulation, but it’s harder to find a job… I won’t stay here
[UK] forever, but I think it’s easier to start a career here.”
According to official UK data, French citizens represent the
second largest group of foreigners from western EU countries
(as opposed to former eastern bloc EU nations) residing in
London and the UK, after migrants from Ireland. The majority
are young, college-educated members of the middle class who
move to London on their own initiative. Their main motivation
is long-term career development. Unlike the rigid labor market
found in France, the UK labor market is viewed as dynamic and
as rewarding individual merit, effort, and competitive success.
As part of this long-term career development perspective, tem-
porary French migrants work in the UK in order to improve
their English. Since French companies highly value strong
English language skills and overseas experience, there is strong
incentive to spend some time in the UK or other English-
speaking country before searching for a permanent job.
Most French migrants live in the UK for 1 - 5 years before
returning to France. Benefits of returning include a lower cost
of living, greater job security, and better pensions. For young
families there are the added benefits of subsidized day care and
less expensive state-run schools. Migrants who decide to stay in
the UK permanently mostly do so because they marry foreign
spouses who cannot find suitable employment in France,
mainly due to insufficient French language skills. Since most
French who migrate to the UK eventually return to France,
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
there is little potential of “brain drain,” therefore both countries
may be viewed as benefiting from the short-term migrant phe-
Since most French migrants have poor command of English
upon their arrival in the UK, many have to work in low-level
hospitality sector jobs, even though they may have degrees in
professional disciplines. In other words, they experience initial
downward mobility, unlike their counterparts from English-
speaking countries such as New Zealand, whose citizens can
find relatively well-paid professional work in London (Con-
radson & Latham, 2005). However, for young migrants from
English-speaking countries, primary motivations often consist
of opportunities for travel, experiencing different cultures, and
enjoying a free lifestyle before settling down into a career—in
other words, an emphasis on self-exploration, with career ad-
vancement a distant secondary concern. In contrast, French
people are more likely to move to the UK for long-term career
development purposes (e.g., language learning and overseas
work experience to add to their resumes), with lifestyle viewed
as an extra bonus.
EU countries now allow their citizens to freely move across
the borders of member states in pursuit of economic opportuni-
ties, yet EU migration from non-EU countries still exceeds
intra-EU migration. The primary migration pattern from deve-
loping countries to Europe has not changed since the formation
of the EU. As Hooghe, et al. (2008) point out, migration flow to
European countries is driven by labor market shortages and past
colonial links. Since there are no major discrepancies in eco-
nomic performance and social welfare programs in western EU
states, those fa ctors are unlikely to motivate intra -EU migration.
And even though both Euro pean Empl oy ment Ser vices (E URE S)
and local job centers are available to all EU citizens, those ser-
vices are not actively involved in facilitating intra-EU migrants’
job searches to the same degree as the three French organiza-
tions in London that I described in this paper. Then there is the
obvious factor that the UK is the only EU country that uses
English as its first language, which is a major draw for young
EU citizens who want to improve their English language skills.
I also found a difference in terms of mobility culture. In wes-
tern EU countries, only a small number of middle class workers
are motivated to move to another country in the interest of ad-
venture, lifestyle change, or social distinction—for instance,
some of British citizens who move to Paris (Scott, 2006). In the
absence of a strong mobility culture, support organizations, and
a preferred language, intra-EU mobility is likely to remain
dominated by blue collar migrants due to significant wage dif-
I would like to thank the Institute of European and American
Studies in Academia Sinica for my travel grant, and the Insti-
tute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET) at Lon-
don Metropolitan University for hosting my research. The list
of individuals who helped me with this project is too long to
present here, but I wish to express my specific appreciation to
Professors Allan Williams and Pei-Chia Lan, Dr. Monica Threl-
fall, Mr. Jacques Reland and my research assistant, Mr. Po-Jen
Amit, V. (2002). The moving “expert”: A study of mobile professionals
in the Cayman Islands and North America. In N. N. Sørensen, & K.
F. Olwig (Eds.), Work and migration: Life and livelihoods in a glob-
alizing world (pp. 145-160). London: Routledge.
Banai, M., & Harry, W. (2004). Boundaryless global careers: The in-
ternational itinerants. International Studies of Management and Or-
ganization, 34, 96-120.
Bellion, G. (2005). French business in the UK-A survey. (University of
Franche-Comté MSc Project). URL (last checked 10 May 2010).
Braun, M., & Recchi, E. (2009). Free-moving west Europeans: An
empirically based portrait. In H. Fassmann, M. Haller, & D. Lane,
(Eds.), Migration and mobility in Europe: Trends, patterns and con-
trol (pp. 85-101). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Conradson, D., & Latham, A. (2005). Friendship, networks and trans-
nationality in a world city: Antipodean transmigrants in London.
Journal of Ethnic and Mig ra tion Studies, 31, 287-305.
Crystal, D. (2003). English as a global language (2nd ed.). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511486999
Favell, A. (2006). London as eurocity: French free movers in the eco-
nomic capital of Europe. In M. P. Smith, & A. Favell (Eds.), The
human face of global mobility (pp. 247-274). New Brunswick, NJ:
Transaction Press.
Favell, A. (2008). Eurostars and eurocities: Free movement and mobil-
ity in an integrating Europe. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Favell, A., Feldblum, M., & Smith, M. P. (2006). The human face of
global mobility: A research agenda. In M. P. Smith, & A. Favell
(Eds.), The human face of global mobility (pp. 1-25). New Bruns-
wick, NJ: Transaction Press.
Favell, A., & Recchi, E. (2009). Pioneers of European integration: An
introduction. In A. Favell, & E. Recchi (Eds.), Pioneers of European
integration: Citizenship and mobility in the EU (pp. 1-25). North-
ampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research (4th ed.).
London: Sage.
Fouarge, D., & Ester, P. (2009). Understanding migration decisions in
Eastern and Western Europe: Perceived costs and benefits of mobi-
lity. In H. Fassmann, M. Haller, & D. Lane (Eds.), Migration and
mobility in Europe: Trends, patterns and control (pp. 51-72). North-
ampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
(2011). The French community in London: Paris-on-Thames. The
Economist, 49.
Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. (2001). Varieties of capitalism: The institu-
tional foundations of comparative advantage. Oxford: Oxford Uni-
versity Press.
Hancké, B. (2006). Large firms and institutional change: Industrial
renewal and economic restructuring in France. Oxford: Oxford Uni-
versity Press.
Herm, A. (2008). Recent migration trends: Citizens of Eu-27 member
states become ever more mobile while EU remains attractive to non-
EU citizens. URL (last checked 3 June 2010).
Hooghe, M., Trappers, A., Meuleman, B., & Reeskens, T. (2008). Mi-
gration to European countries: A structural explanation of patterns,
1980-2004. Inte r national Migration Review, 42, 476-504.
Howe-Walsh, L., & Schyns, B. (2010). Self-initiated expatriation:
Implications for HRM. The International Journal of Human Re-
source Management, 2 1, 260-273. doi:10.1080/09585190903509571
Inkson, K. (2006). Protean and boundaryless careers as metaphors.
Journal of Vocational B ehavior, 69, 48-63.
Inkson, K., Arthur, M. B., Pringle, J., & Barry, S. (1997). Expatriate
assignment versus overseas experience: Contrasting models of inter-
national human resource development. Journal of World Business,
32, 351-368. doi:10.1016/S1090-9516(97)90017-1
Jokinen, T., Brewster, C., & Suutari, V. (2008). Career capital during
international work experiences: Contrasting self-initiated expatriate
experiences and assigned expatriation. The International Journal of
Human Resource Management, 19, 979-998.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 125
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Kennedy, P. (2010). Mobility, flexible lifestyles and cosmopolitanism:
EU postgraduates in manchester. Journal of Ethnic and Migration
Studies, 36, 465-4 82. doi:10.1080/13691830903426838
Model, S. (2002). Immigrants’ social class in three global cities. In M.
Cross, & R. Moore (Eds.), Globalization and the New City: Migrants,
Minorities and Urban Transformations in Comparative Perspective
(pp. 82-118). New York: Palgrave Publishers Ltd.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd
ed.). London: Sage.
Pissarides, C. A. (2006). Unemployment in Britain: A European suc-
cess story. In M. Werding (Ed.), Structural unemployment in Western
Europe: Reasons and remedies (pp. 209-235). Cambridge: The MIT
Sassen, S. (1991). The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Prince-
ton. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Scott, S. (2006). The social morphology of skilled migration: The case
of the British middle class in Paris. Journal of Ethnic and Migration
Studies, 32, 1105- 1129. doi:10.1080/13691830600821802
Stahl, G. K., Miller, E. L., & Tung, R. L. (2002). Toward the bound-
aryless career: A closer look at the expatriate career concept and the
perceived implications of an international assignment. Journal of
World Business, 37, 216-227. doi:10.1016/S1090-9516(02)00080-9
Suutari, V., & Brewster, C. (2000). Making their own way: Interna-
tional experience through self-initiated foreign assignments. Journal
of World Business, 35, 417-436.
Tzeng, R. (2010). Cultural capital and cross-border career ladders: Wes-
tern professional migrants in Taiwan. International Sociology, 25,
123-143. doi:10.1177/0268580909346709
UK Office for National Statistics (2011). Population by country of birth
and nationality from the annual population survey. URL (last checked
8 June 2010).
Vance, C. M. (2005). The personal quest for building global compe-
tence: A taxonomy of self-initiating career path strategies for gaining
business experience abroad. Journal of World Business, 40, 374-385.
Wills, J., May, J., Datta, K., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., & McIlwaine, C.
(2009). London’s migrant division of labour. European Urban and
Regional Studies, 16, 257-271. doi:10.1177/0969776409104692
Zimmermann, K. F. (2009). Labour mobility and the integration of
European labour markets. In E. Nowotny, P. Mooslechner, & D.
Ritzberger-Grünwald (Eds.), The integration of European labour
markets (pp. 9-23 ). Northam pt on , MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.