Journal Article

A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration. Habitus and the Individualising Process

Published 1 January 2010 / By Caroline Oliver, Karen O'Reilly

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Introduction

This article explores the phenomenon of lifestyle migration from Britain to Spain to interrogate, empirically, the continued relevance of class in the era of individualizing modernity (Beck, 1994). Lifestyle migrants articulate an anti-materialist rhetoric and their experiences of retirement or self-employment diminish the significance of class divisions. However, as researchers who independently studied similar populations in the Eastern and Western Costa del Sol, we found these societies less ‘classless’ than espoused. Despite attempts to rewrite their own history and to mould a different life trajectory through geographical mobility, migrants were bound by the significance of class through both cultural process and the reproduction of (economic) position. Bourdieu’s methodological approach and sociological concepts proved useful for understanding these processes. Employing his concepts throughout, we consider the (limited) possibilities for reinventing habitus, despite claims of an apparently egalitarian social field.

Oliver, C. and O'Reilly, K. (2010) 'A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration. Habitus and the Individualising Process', Sociology, 44(1): 49-66