Geographies of cultural capital: education, international migration and family strategies between Hong Kong and Canada

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Abstract

This paper intervenes in debates on education and social reproduction, developing the link between ‘parental choice’, class status and spatial mobility. Drawing on research in Canada and Hong Kong with migrant students and ‘returnee’ graduates, it demonstrates the relationship between ‘choice’, social class and international mobility, arguing that geographies of middle-class decisionmaking in education have been recently transformed with the growth of a multi-billion dollar international education market. The paper unpacks the meanings and consequences of international education in Hong Kong, revealing how migration to Canada has enabled middle-class families to accumulate a more valuable form of cultural capital in a ‘Western’ university degree. It argues for a geographically sensitive account of the relative value of international education and its close links with both class reproduction and place-based transnational social networks.

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