The privilege of free movement

Discursive representations of mobility in Finnish upper secondary level EU textbooks


  • Saila Heinikoski University of Helsinki


European integration, argumentation theory, discourse analysis, free movement, immigration


This article examines how free movement and mobility are represented in Finnish upper secondary level EU textbooks. There were three such books in use at the time of writing, published in 2007, 2010 and 2014. My methodology is based on the discourse-historical approach outlined by Ruth Wodak, focusing particularly on the various discursive strategies present in the books. I have divided the groups addressed into four levels of mobility thus; ‘EU movers’, ‘restricted EU movers’, ‘migrants’ and ‘refugees’. The EU movers were the most positively viewed group; their mobility was often related to work and studies. ‘Restricted EU movers’ refers to citizens of the countries that joined the EU in the twenty-first century, whose ‘invasion’ was allegedly feared by the older member states. Migrants outside the EU were described, inter alia, as a ‘flow of millions of poor people’ eager to enter Europe. Refugees, in turn, were conflated with people applying for asylum without valid grounds, creating a ‘refugee flow’ dealing with which member states needed to assist each other. Overall, this article concurs with the findings of previous studies: school books tend to present those moving within Europe as more agreeable, with less acceptable stereotypical characteristics being attached to extra-EU migrants and minority groups such as the Roma.

How to Cite

Heinikoski, S. (2019). The privilege of free movement: Discursive representations of mobility in Finnish upper secondary level EU textbooks. Approaching Religion, 9(1–2), 8–26.