Is International Mobility Unifying or Dividing the World?

Rechhi_illuMention globalization to an economist and she will most likely hear ‘foreign trade’; ask a sociologist and he’ll tell you about ‘international mobility’.

More than sociology, originally it was human geography that dealt with the role of movements in the functioning of the social fabric. And it was human geographers who proposed the crucial notion of ‘time-space compression’ as the distinctive feature of the contemporary age, engendered by the joint effect of progress in transport and telecommunications and the worldwide spread of the capitalist organization of the economy. This compression constitutes the essential premise of globalization. Only at the beginning of the millennium, sociology – pioneered by John Urry’s somewhat visionary work – came to surmise that the enhanced movement of persons, objects and images is the hallmark of our age. Continue reading

Separating Work From Life – Cross-Border Commuters in Central Europe

The research project “TRANSLAB – Cross-Border Labour Mobility, Transnational Labour Markets and Social Differentiation in the Central European Region” at the Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, aims to provide an in-depth look at commuters from Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic bordering on Austria. This transnational labor market is particularly interesting as a specific historical political context in which global societal processes and European transformations interact. The focus of the project is on commuters’

a) reasons for commuting,

b) labor market integration and occupational trajectory,

c) integration into social networks and dynamics of social inequality.

The TRANSLAB project builds on the established methods of ‘ethnosurvey’ data collection and associated, more recent applications for the European setting. Based on quota sampling the social research department GfK Austria and its Central European partner institutes carried out face-to-face interviews with a total of 1.345 commuters to Austria and a reference group consisting of 1.334 non-commuters. Additionally we interviewed 20 experts consisting of EURES employees, business owners as well as local mayors and trade union representatives. At the moment a survey of biographical interviews with commuters is conducted.

Vienna is not only the capital and largest city of Austria, it is also the cultural and economic center of the Central European Region (Centrope). Centrope is one of many Euroregions that encourage cooperation among the border regions of Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Austria. One of the starting points of the political project is that wage levels and unemployment rates still tend to diverge quite significantly. Therefore mobility of labor is a core aim of the Centrope Strategy 2013+.

Graphic 1: The Central European Region

Map of the Central European Region with Vienna at its center

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