Spanish migrant capitals and social integration in Bristol
: in what ways have Spanish nationals who arrived in Bristol between 2008 and 2017 used their social capital to develop social connections, and how have the outcomes of those connections shaped their social integration?

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Following Ager and Strang’s (2008) work on core domains of integration, this research examines the domain of social connections through the study of individuals’ networks. It explores the ways in which Spanish nationals who have arrived in Bristol since 2008 have i) accessed and developed networks in the city ii) mobilized their capitals through dyadic ties and networks and iii) how the outcome of these mobilizations helped them to socially integrate. Diverging from Putnam (2000) and Woolcock’s (1998) ties perspective (bridges, bonds and links) this research draws from Bourdieu (1986, 2000), Granovetter (1973, 1983) and Ryan’s (2011, 2016; 2015b) work to look at the development of social connections and the mobilization of capitals to achieve (or not) social integration. Sociograms were used to map the ties that 27 Spanish nationals had developed in Bristol. Semi-structured interviews guided the completion of the sociogram and provided detail about individuals’ dyadic ties and networks. Demographic questionnaire data provided context to their stories. The research found that developed ties in the city occur through shared spaces, romantic partners, hispanophile natives, and people in similar work and life stages. Moreover, the research found that Spaniards mobilized their capitals through their networks to socially integrate into co-national, religious, professional, native and mixed networks. Vertical ties, social and cultural brokers, free time, and the hospitality of the residents were key elements explaining two-way integration outcomes. Strong ties provided a sense of belonging, reciprocity, and settlement.
The research contributes to the literature on migration, social capital, and networks (migrant capital); provides the concepts of social and cultural brokers, aims to separate tie theory from social capital theory; and highlights a new and understudied phenomenon of long-term Spanish migration to Bristol.
Date of Award28 Sep 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorTariq Modood (Supervisor) & Jon E Fox (Supervisor)


  • Social integration
  • Social connections
  • Social capital
  • Migrant capital
  • Social brokers
  • Cultural brokers
  • Networks
  • Sociograms
  • Ties
  • Vertical ties
  • Weak ties
  • Strong ties
  • Social location
  • Social networks
  • Spanish
  • Spaniards
  • Hispanophile
  • Migration
  • Intra-EU migration
  • Bristol

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