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The TRANSLAB Project

Project Overview

The project examines recent intra-European migration movements, taking the Central European Region (CENTROPE) as an exemplary instance. This economically and culturally diverse region lies in the heart of Europe, with Vienna as its central metropolitan area. The year 2011 marks the culmination of an important change to the region: on May 1st, the last barriers to the free movement of labour were removed. Experts expect that the opening of the borders will lead to a substantial dynamization of migration processes from Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to Austria.


The focus of the project is on migrants'

(a) reasons for migrating;

(b) labour market integration and occupational trajectory;

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


The methodological strategy involves the compilation and analysis of expert interviews, biographical interviews as well as a standardized survey.


Projekt Leader


Prof. Dr. Roland Verwiebe

Professor of Social Stratification Research and Quantitative Methods at the

University of Vienna and Head of the Department of Sociology. Main research interests: transnationalism, migration, labour market, social inequality and European



Prof. Dr. Christoph Reinprecht

Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Vienna. Main research interests: migration, ageing, social inequality, political sociology and participatory intervention research.




MMag. Raimund Haindorfer

PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Vienna. Main research topics: transnationalism, cross-border migration, social networks, social inequality.


Laura Wiesböck, M.A.

PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Vienna. Main research interests: migration, social inequality, transnationalism, Europeanization.



June 2012- June 2015



Funding scheme

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Universität Wien
Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds



CENTRAL EUROPE is a EU program “that encourages cooperation among the countries of central Europe to improve innovation, … and to enhance the competitiveness … of their regions.” Located at the heart of the EU, Centrope covers large parts of Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary (former Habsburg Monarchy).

Landkarte Zentraleuropa


Here, in eight different administrative regions of Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, there are six and a half million inhabitants whose life chances– in spite of some economic catching-up in the new member states – remain characterized by a strong East-West divide. On May 1st, 2011, the last barriers to free movement of labour were removed and set in motion major changes.


For details please see: http://www.centrope.com/en


Theoretical Background

Migration is no longer exclusively characterized by permanent relocations of principal residences. The beginning of the 21st century has seen a diversification of migration patterns: We observe an increase in temporal, short-term, circular migration, transnational, chain migration as well as in cross-border work related mobility and commuting. The specific EU context enhances short term migration through active support of intra-European mobility, removal of barriers, free movement and settlement and mutual recognition of qualifications.


The Central European region is a notable example of these recent developments. The breakdown of the Soviet Union, the EU-enlargement as well as the removal of the last barriers to the free movement of labour are markers of significant changes that have led to new interplays of economic, social, political and legal factors. Historical, regional- economic and infrastructural features make a high rate of labour mobility within this region likely. The aim of the research project is to gain a deeper understanding of the emerging transnational labour market in this region.



The Data collection is conducted by a cutting-edge methodological approach, oriented on a methodological concept established in migration research by Massey and colleagues (for details see section “Literature”). In keeping with this approach, our research field is limited to those communities in which historical, regional economic and infrastructural features make a high rate of migration likely. Following the example of Massey and colleagues, we are using both qualitative and quantitative survey methods.


1. Experts interviews

The empirical starting point was the survey of experts. A total of 15 expert interviews have been conducted. The experts consist of EURES employees, business owners as well as local political leaders and administrative officials.


2. Standardized, retrospective survey

The quantitative data is based on a survey of N = 2,400, comprised of 1,200 observations of actual commuters and 1,200 observations of a reference group of non-commuters. For each border region (Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary bordering on Austria) 400 interviews with actual commuters and 400 interviews with the reference group were being conducted. The quantitative data has been collected in spring/fall 2012.


3. Biographical Interviews

A total of 45 employment-centred biographical interviews will be conducted in the Central European Region. Building on life stories, the migration biographies of labour migrants are specifically addressed. This makes it possible to illuminate the motives for, and patterns of, migration in a dynamic overall context of economic, social, cultural and institutional conditions, with individual biographies as the lynchpin.




Verwiebe, Roland (2013): Cross-border commuting between Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. First results from a recent quantitative study in the Central European Region (Centrope). Presentation at the Lecture Series of the Department of Sociology at Columbia University, April 11th 2013.




Haindorfer, Raimund / Wiesböck, Laura (2013): Cross-Border Labour Mobility, Transnational Labour Markets and Social Differentiation in the Central European Region. Presentation of the research project in the course of the lecture “Struktur und Entwicklung der Gegenwartsgesellschaft - Österreich im Wandel“ (Prof. Dr. Franz Kolland), Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Mai, 28th, 2013.


Haindorfer, Raimund / Wiesböck, Laura (2013): Applied Mixed-Methods - Researching new Facets of Cross-Border Labour Mobility in Central Europe. 5th Conference of the European Survey Research Organisation in Ljubljana, July 15-19, 2013.





„Migration auf Zeit: Pendeln über die Grenze“

Presse, 16. Oktober 2012



„Pendeln für ein besseres Leben“

Standard, 12. Juni 2012



„Ein Kommen und Gehen aus Osteuropa“

Standard, 7. Mai 2012



„Arbeitsmarkt: Junge Ausländer verdrängen alte Ausländer“

Presse, 7. Mai 2012



„Ein Jahr Arbeitsmarktöffnung“

Standard, 30. April 2012



„42 Prozent pendeln nach Österreich“

Standard, 27. April 2012



„Nur noch jeder Dritte fürchtet starken Zuzug“

Presse, 17. April 2012



„Ungarn und Polen kommen - und gehen wieder“

Standard, 17. Jänner 2012



„Eine Rarität: Der österreichische Bratislava-Pendler“

Presse, 29. April 2011



„József aus der Puszta ist schon da“

Wiener Zeitung, 29. April 2011



„Mehr Pendler als Migranten“

Standard, 11. April 2011



„Wirtschaft im Burgenland profitiert von Grenzgängern“

Presse, 27.August 2010



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