Moving right across the border - Fortune and misfortune of the French middle class in rural Belgian cities

Authors: Garance Clement*,
Topics: Migration, Social Geography, Europe
Keywords: Cross-border ; migration; middle class ; Belgiqum
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Iris, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

While the way expatriates live in capital cities is now well documented, and apart from recent literature on “Lifestyle migrations” looking at affluent migrants settled in southern and coastal cities of Europe, scholars remain quite silent on the specific patterns of privileged immigration outside of large metropolis. This paper builds on the case of French middle class originating from Lille Metropolis and settling in peri-urban and rural border Belgian cities, where they enjoy cheaper accommodation and better quality of life. This phenomenon can be traced back to the early 2000s when real estate prices strongly increased in Lille Metropolis. It is also rooted in the transformations of the economic grounds of a former industrial territory.
I will argue that the explanation for the centrifugal movement of the French middle class in Belgium can be found at the crossroad of increasing social and residential inequalities in urban centers and individual strategies of social uprising. I will also show that unlike traditional peri-urban trends, this form of short distance international migration triggers unexpected challenges of integration that require various forms of social and economic resources which the lower middle class may lack. I will rely on a 5 years PhD research gathering 62 in-depth interviews with both French immigrants and local actors taking part in their settlement. In the continuation of Adrian Favell’s work, this case study intends to give new insights on the reality of free movement conditions within the EU and the presumed relation between intra-European migrations and social spiralism

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