The Social Morphology of Skilled Migration: The Case of the British Middle Class in Paris

S Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

152 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Since the late 1980s, international skill mobility has become a topic of academic enquiry, examined from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Economic theorisation has centred on the elite professional migrant moving within corporate spheres of influence concentrated on ‘world cities’ such as London, New York and Paris. Whilst accepting the value of this work*particularly in terms of its contribution to the broader retheorisation of migration studies*this paper is critical of the focus on a privileged economic form of career-based mobility. I argue that skilled international migration, although still practised by a relatively small number of people, has nonetheless become a ‘normal’ middle-class activity rather than something exclusively confined to an economic elite. This implies complexity with regard to the skilled migrant communities that form within the contemporary world city, complexity that has hitherto been overlooked. This omission is addressed through a six-faceted lifestyle typology derived from 36 interviews with skilled British residents in Paris. The typology underpins the main argument of the paper: namely that skilled migration has developed an increasingly diverse ‘human face’ since studies of the phenomenon began in the late 1980s, and that traditional notions of the economic ‘expatriate’ need to be placed within a much broader contextual and conceptual framework. In the final part of the paper, reasons for the development of this complexity are briefly explored.
Translated title of the contributionThe Social Morphology of Skilled Migration: The Case of the British Middle Class in Paris
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105 - 1129
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume32.7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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