ERG SES C 04, Higher Education
While international mobility has been the focus of much educational research in recent years (Solimano, 2008), national mobility of the tertiary educated has received less attention from educational researchers. This study focuses on national mobility, specifically the choice of geographical location with which the Swedish tertiary educated establish themselves upon leaving higher education. Prior educational research on geographical mobility has typically focused on how social and cultural contexts influence this mobility and location decision-making; however, the geographical contexts individuals inhabit also need to be included in these educational analyses (Donnelly & Evans, 2015). Human geographers and economists, however, have often incorporated regional attributes in their analyses and interpretations of location destination choice among the tertiary educated. Though often times there is a greater focus on geographical context and economic perspectives than a relational understanding of location choice and mobility that incorporates both social and geographical perspectives (Haley, 2016).
It is important to consider the attachment individuals from differing social backgrounds may have with different geographical contexts because this can implicate individual’s mobility trajectories and location preferences. For example, individuals from working class backgrounds may be less likely to relocate to different geographical contexts from the one in which they have become accustomed (Allen & Hollingworth, 2013) because they have formed important insider advantages that make the cost of changing location high (Wikhall, 2002). If social background shapes perspectives and preferences for geographical contexts, which impacts mobility decisions and location choices, then the spatial distribution of higher education institutions matters in terms of access to higher education opportunities (Donnelly & Evans, 2015) and the distribution of human capital within labor markets. Therefore, this paper considers the broader social space (i.e. social and geographical contexts) of the Swedish tertiary educated and how their social space contributes to influencing their choice of geographical location following higher education. Thus, the primary question this study seeks to answer is: What is the relationship of social space and location destination after higher education among the tertiary educated in Sweden?
Social space is operationalized per Bourdieu. Bourdieu understands social space as individuals distributed according to multiple dimensions; these dimensions or forms of capital define individual’s overall position within space (Bourdieu, 1985). Individuals are distributed in social space according to the amount of capital they possess, as well as the structure or composition of this capital (Bourdieu, 1989). Bourdieu’s social space centers on individual’s economic and cultural capital since he considers these as fundamental differences between individuals that cannot be ignored. However, he also suggests organizing individuals in accordance to other principles of division such as location, gender, or ethnicity (Bourdieu, 1985). These divisions are generally linked to fundamental principles of social hierarchy such as urban areas being hierarchized over rural areas in social space.
With regards to geographical mobility, Bourdieu implies that the closer individuals are located in geographical space, the closer they are in social space, meaning they share more commonalities. Thus, individuals who are close in social space have a tendency to congregate in geographic space, by choice or out of necessity (Bourdieu, 1989). The places or locations that the tertiary educated inhabit before and during higher education study are representative of their social space, so individuals of differing social spaces are also likely to reside in different geographical settings upon ending higher education study. The results of this paper are discussed in relation to outcomes from similar, prior research such as studies in Germany (Buenstorf, Geissler, & Krabel, 2015), the United Kingdom (Faggian & McCann, 2009), and Sweden (Wikhall, 2002).
• Allen, K. & Hollingworth, S. (2013). ‘Sticky subjects’ or ‘cosmopolitan creatives’? Social class, place and urban young people’s aspirations for work in the knowledge economy. Urban Studies, 50(3), 499-517. • Bourdieu, P. (1985). The social space and the genesis of groups. Theory and Society, 14(6), 723-744. • Bourdieu, P. (1989). Social space and symbolic power. Sociological Theory, 7(1), 14-25. • Buenstorf, G., Geissler, M., & Krabel, S. (2016). Locations of labor market entry by German university graduates: Is (regional) beauty in the eye of the beholder?. Review of Regional Research, 36, 29-49. • Donnelly, M. & Evans, C. (2015). Framing the geographies of higher education participation: Schools, place and national identity. British Educational Research Journal. Advance Online Publication. DOI: 10.1002/berj.3196. • Faggian, A., & McCann, P. (2009). Universities, agglomerations and graduate human capital mobility. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 100(2), 210-223. • Haley, A. (2016). Through a social space lens – Interpreting migration of the tertiary educated. European Educational Research Journal. DOI: 10.1177/1474904116630316. • Solimano, A. (2008). The international mobility of talent. New York: Oxford University Press. • Wikhall, M. (2002). Culture as regional attraction: Migration decisions of highly educated in a Swedish context (No. 2002:13). Stockholm: SISTER.
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