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Keywords:

  • transnational;
  • expatriate;
  • global city;
  • Paris;
  • identity;
  • British

Abstract

The transnational literature encompasses a bewildering array of immigrant groups and covers a diverse range of issues. Having said this, migration researchers have tended to ignore skilled immigrants and the everyday transnational communities and networks that they form. The paper addresses this research gap through an in-depth, qualitative analysis of British expatriates in Ile-de-France – based upon 36 semi-structured interviews and ten months of Paris-based fieldwork. The paper draws attention to a number of different transnational lifestyles and advances a six-pronged typology to encapsulate this diversity. It then highlights three prominent themes that appear to underpin transnational social and cultural exchange, relating to a ‘concern’ amongst expatriates with key events in the UK, to a desire to keep in ‘contact’ with friends and relatives still living there, and to the need for the occasional British cultural ‘comfort’. The paper then goes on to explore the world city lifestyle typology in greater depth. It shows how transnationalism is contingent upon a variety of social fissures, including gender, generation, life-stage, socio-professional status and length of stay overseas. These variables impact upon the scale, scope, nature and importance of transnational exchange, and in recognition of such diversity the paper calls for a nuanced view of skilled transmigrants. More particularly, it argues that the term expatriate may actually only apply to a particular economic-based migrant community rather than skilled world city populations as a whole. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.