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Introduction

Print Culture, Mobility, and the Pacific, 1920–1950

Victoria Kuttainen and Susann Liebich

This special section considers the interconnections of print culture and mobility across the Pacific in the early twentieth century. The contributors explore how print culture was part of the practices, experiences, mediations, and representations of travel and mobility, and understand mobility in a number of ways: from the movement of people and texts across space and the mobility of ideas to the opportunities of social mobility through travel. The special section moves beyond studies of travel writing and the literary analysis of travel narratives by discussing a range of genres, by paying attention to readers and reception, and by focusing on actual mobility and its representation as well as the mediation between the two.

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Elite de Façade et Mirages de l’Independance

Les Petits Entrepreneurs Etrangers en France dans l’Entre-Deux-Guerres

Claire Zalc

In the literature, immigrant entrepreneurs are described as the élite of the best “integrated” immigrants. Histories of migrant communities all insist on the role of the entrepreneurs as the center of the community and the symbol of social success. In this paper, I will discuss the diverse social meaning attached to being an entrepreneur for an immigrant in Paris during the interwar period. In order to describe the social position of immigrant entrepreneurs, I worked on professional careers, based on the study of more than two hundred applications for French nationality from foreign entrepreneurs during the first half of the twentieth century. It's hard to conclude that there is a one-way social mobility of entrepreneurs, either ascendant or descendent. While some went from the working class to owning a shop, eventually able to spend and save money, others became entrepreneurs as a necessity rather than choice.

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A Social Negotiation of Hope

Male West African Youth

Christian Ungruhe and James Esson

This article examines the present-day perception among boys and young men in West Africa that migration through football offers a way of achieving social standing and improving their life chances. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among footballers in urban southern Ghana between 2010 and 2016, we argue that young people’s efforts to make it abroad and “become a somebody” through football is not merely an individual fantasy; it is rather a social negotiation of hope to overcome widespread social immobility in the region. It is this collective practice among a large cohort of young males—realistic or not—which qualifies conceptualizations of youth transitions such as waithood that dominate academic understanding of African youth today.

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Mercedes González de la Rocha and Agustín Escobar Latapí

For as long as national records have been kept, Indigenous rural girls in Mexico have spent the least amount of time in school (aside from some people with disabilities). An innovative social program was designed in the 1990s that aimed to stop the intergenerational transmission of poverty through the provision of cash transfers (higher for girls than for boys) to families, conditional upon their children’s attendance at school and health clinics. We set out to assess whether or not the program had closed these gender and ethnicity gaps and found that it did narrow substantially pre-existing inequalities among rural indigenous poor girls and their families and, in some instances, reversed them. We recognize that the program does not eliminate other structural forces discriminating against indigenous Mexican girls and that prolonged education is an instrument for mobility only if these other forces are counterbalanced by more comprehensive social strategies.

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Jacqui Close

In the U.K., ‘student engagement’, and the related ‘student experience’, are increasingly measured, interpreted and then marketed to students as a basis on which to choose the ‘best’ place for their higher education. This article summarises and reflects on presentations from five panel members at a conference on their experience of university life after that choice had been made. The panel included non-traditional students who embodied some of the characteristics (such as age, social class and ethnicity) that have become performance indicators in relation to widening participation and engagement in higher education. This article captures how students themselves understand a concept that occupies such a prominent, if contested, position in contemporary higher education. This analysis invites one to take a closer look at the identity work necessary for students to thrive (and for some just to survive) at university against a backdrop that tends to homogenise both ‘experience’ and ‘student’.

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'The Best Way to See Waterloo Is with Your Eyes Shut'

British 'Histourism', Authenticity and Commercialisation in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Pieter François

This article analyses how nineteenth-century British visitors of Waterloo anticipated, experienced and explained their visit of 'the field'. The article shows how British visitors attempted to claim ownership over Waterloo and to legitimise their own commemorative practices by simultaneously searching for authenticity and longing for the familiarity (and commercialisation) of the 'beaten track'. By doing so this article calls for a shift in our understanding of nineteenth-century British Waterloo tourism. The view that emphasises the succession of an early generation of authentic travellers by a later generation of 'mere' tourists is replaced by a view which sees the desire for authenticity and the need for the familiar as two forces which were continuously negotiated in creative ways by travellers throughout the whole nineteenth century.

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Ivan V. Small

Vietnam has been the focus of a creative and burgeoning body of academic, policy, and industry research broadly focused on mobility. This review is designed to give an inter-disciplinary overview of some of the new mobility related academic work on Vietnam and reflect on the broader political, economic and social contexts and catalysts of the mobility turn. The review considers three sub themes: transportation mobility, migratory mobility, and social mobility. It concludes with some reflections on the potentials and limitations for intersection between these fields, and anticipations of new mobility research areas in the coming years.

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The emergence of the global debt society

Governmentality and profit extraction through fabricated abundance and imposed scarcity in Peru and Spain

Ismael Vaccaro, Eric Hirsch and Irene Sabaté

As a result of the financialization of household and national economies, indebtedness has become a system of domination shaping the making of contemporary subjects. Th is sort of governmentality through debt is a multifaceted phenomenon affecting people’s economic and political behavior in both the North and the South. Disguised and legitimized by the moral obligation to repay debts, and by promises of upward social mobility (for the working classes in the North) and of development (for the population of the Global South), indebtedness disciplines households and neutralizes political agency under finance capitalism, as our ethnographic examples on the mortgage crisis in Spain and on microfinance in Peru reveal.

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From Ebony to Ivory

‘Cosmetic’ Investments in the Body

Chiara Pussetti

This article discusses the impact of skin colour inequality in the individual aspirations and prospects of social inclusion and success, social mobility aspirations, professional ambitions and career opportunities. Ethnographically, it studies specific forms of cosmetic investments and self-optimisation in Portugal and its effects on the micropolitics of bodies, correlating the agency of individuals (how they empower themselves maximising certain aspects and minimising others) with the ways in which a European white appearance circulates as a form of capital and commodity, creating body narratives that are very much racialised. By inquiring the actual European understanding of value in bodies, we can also understand the colonial legacy and how it is reproduced through the mutation of bodies.

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Julie Fette

This article melds family history with History, tracing the lives of my daughter’s grandparents, Marcelle Libraty and Pinhas Cohen. Products of the social mobility and integration offered by the Alliance israélite universelle, they became schoolteachers in Morocco and opted for France after independence. Currently in their eighties, Marcelle and Pinhas’s lives are connected to sweeping events in history: French colonialism, Vichy anti- Semitism, Moroccan independence, Jewish emigration. Inspired by Ivan Jablonka’s L’Histoire des grandparents que je n’ai pas eus, I experiment as both narrator of the past and participant in the family story, and demonstrate new ways of writing history. This auto-historiographical project shows how a family succeeds in preserving identities of origin and maintaining relationships despite socio-political upheaval and global mobility.