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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Geographies of cultural capital : international education, circular migration and family strategies between Canada and Hong Kong Waters, Johanna L.


This thesis examines recent patterns of global student mobility through the investigation of an emergent map of'international education' and the related socio-spatial strategies underpinning the contemporary transnational migration of students and their families between Canada and Hong Kong. It is particularly concerned with uncovering the symbolic meanings and practical implications of 'foreign educational credentials' for East Asian families; 'education' is conceived in terms of 'cultural capital' and is found to be intimately related to broader capital accumulation strategies amongst households seeking to reproduce their middle-class status in contemporary Hong Kong. Research was conducted in Vancouver and Hong Kong, including in-depth interviews with current immigrant students and returnee graduates. The thesis explores some of the main facets of education as geographically differentiated cultural capital and demonstrates also the central role of embedded social relations ('social capital') in the valuation of credentials. Broadly, it seeks to elucidate the relationship between the recent internationalisation of education in particular countries, trends in the long-distance spatial mobility of students from East Asia, and family strategies of capital accumulation and social class reproduction.

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