28 SES 07 B, Changing Space-times of Education
This study examines the interrelationship of social space (Bourdieu, 1985; 1989), geographical mobility, gender, and social reproduction within the context of geographical mobility from higher education (HE) to work in Sweden. To examine these relationships, focus is placed on the reciprocal nature of social space and geographical mobility (i.e. how geographical mobility after HE influences and is influenced by social space). The following questions are addressed: 1) How does social space influence geographical mobility after HE among tertiary educated individuals? and 2) How is the social space of tertiary educated individuals influenced by geographical mobility after HE? In addition, the consequences of this reciprocal relationship are discussed as they relate to gender and social reproduction. The main contribution is an improved understanding of the geographical mobility patterns among different groups of tertiary educated individuals and how this mobility influences their social positions after HE.
Many studies in the fields of economics and human geography have addressed the first research question by exploring factors that influence national geographical mobility among tertiary educated individuals. For instance, a review of research from four European countries indicated that social factors most often found to influence geographical mobility of the tertiary educated include regional characteristics (e.g. local economies, cost of living), human capital (e.g. educational strategies and trajectories) and demographics (i.e. factors representing hierarchical social divisions) (Haley, 2016). According to the review, tertiary educated individuals who attended regionally oriented HEIs had a lower likelihood of moving after HE than individuals who studied in universities. Furthermore, individuals with good grades had a general tendency to congregate in or move to more urban areas if they were not already located there. There was also consensus that older age reduced the likelihood of moving and prior moves, such as moving when beginning HE, increased the likelihood of moving after HE (ibid).
While many studies have examined factors that influence geographical mobility after HE, few studies have considered the consequences of this mobility on the social positions of the tertiary educated. This relates to the understanding that social space is not static and that different geographical mobility patterns form different social spaces (Manderscheid, 2014). If social space is constantly evolving, then an individual’s educational trajectories through HE, as well as their geographical mobility decisions after HE, may influence their social position after HE.
Social space is operationalized per Bourdieu. Bourdieu understands social space as individuals distributed according to multiple dimensions; these dimensions or forms of capital define an individual’s overall position within space (Bourdieu, 1985). Individuals are distributed in social space according to the amount of capital they possess and the structure or composition of this capital (Bourdieu, 1989). Bourdieu’s social space centers on an 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 gender, nationality, or ethnicity (Bourdieu, 1985). These divisions are generally linked to fundamental principles of social hierarchy such as urban areas being hierarchized over rural areas.
With regards to geographical mobility, Bourdieu suggests 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 HE study are representative of their social space, so individuals of differing social spaces are also likely to reside in different geographical settings upon ending HE.
• Bourdieu, P. (1985). The social space and the genesis of groups. Theory and Society, 14(6), 723-744. DOI: 10.1177/053901885024002001. • Bourdieu, P. (1989). Social space and symbolic power. Sociological Theory, 7(1), 14-25. DOI: 10.2307/202060. • Haley, A. (2016a). Through a Social Space Lens – Interpreting Migration of the Tertiary Educated. European Educational Research Journal, 15(4), 480-490. DOI: 10.1177/1474904116630316. • Manderscheid, K. (2014). Unequal mobilities. In T. Ohnmacht, H. Maksim, & M.M. Bergman (Eds.), Mobilities and Inequality (pp. 27-50). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
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