Human Geography: Fully Funded PhD Scholarship at Swansea University: Exploring the role of cultural capital in the macro-regional integration of migrants from the New Member States in France and the UK

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 8 April 2018

Swansea University and University of Sorbonne PhD Scholarship 2018/2019
Project supervisors:
Yann RICHARD, Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR Prodig (France)Sergei SHUBIN, Centre for Migration Policy Research (CMPR), Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University (UK)
Start date:  1 October 2018
Project description:
Recent migration from the accession countries in the EU presents an exciting context exploring international movements due to the large number of people involved in migration, complex settlement transitions and significant variations in migrants’ integration. It has been argued that the circular movement of New Member States (NMS) migrants to Western Europe represents a new migration system (Favell, 2008), where transnational mobility is not solely driven by economic reasons and reflects wider lifestyle choices and cultural motivations (Cook et al., 2011; Luthra et al., 2014). The predominant focus on either the practices of the movement of migrants or the role of structural factors in shaping mobilities (Rodriguez, 2004) highlights the growing need to develop an integrative approach linking together macro, meso and micro level processes of migration and integration.
However, existing literatures often present East–West cross-border mobilities as a form of traditional labour migration with labour-market integration and accumulation of economic and human capital prioritised over other migration outcomes (Barrett and Duffy, 2008; Dustmann et al., 2010). This study challenges the stereotypes of migrants as “homo economicus” (Ley, 2011) and draws on the concept of cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1975) to explore their diverse experiences of integration, cross-border affective capacities and networked relationships. Bourdieu (1975) Cultural capital is described as a set of shared status cultural signals appearing in three states: embodied, institutionalized and objectified. Embodied capital includes attitudes and preferences used as markers for social distinction; institutionalized capital includes legitimised values such as those expressed in formal education; while objectified capital appears in the form of cultural goods such as pictures, books, etc. The project moves beyond rational evaluations of cultural capital and explores the role of emotional components, affective preferences and subjective tastes in defining cultural norms (such as emotional investment) and transforming the existing mechanisms of integration (redefining the meaning of “success” determined by the regime of values; Karpik and Scott, 2010; Boltanski and ThĂ©venot, 2006).
First, it explores the production and circulation of cultural capital, focusing on evaluations and exchanges of capital in distinctive geographical places that are key to migrants’ integration. It studies the mechanisms through which cultural resources (linguistic aptitude, dispositions, preferences) that are important in migrants’ “places of origin” are made convertible and legitimised (as acceptable working qualifications) in the new contexts. Second, the project studies the development of values in cultural capital at multiple scales, questioning the meaning of a cultural distance as a factor affecting migrants’ integration (cultural norms from the migrants home country can be closer to cultural norms in the new environment. To this end, migrant cultures can be in a productive relationship with the host culture, but migrant-migrant interactions can also produce values that circumvent the host culture, thus renegotiating national and cultural boundaries.
Methodologically, the project will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to provide a multi-scale and relational understanding of the mechanisms of mobilisation and transformation of cultural capital in the process of migrant integration. First, it will start by conducting a discursive analysis of the media and policy publications on the deployment of cultural norms (acceptable behaviours, local cultural attitudes) at different levels (national/provincial/district) that underlie the classificatory processes defining integration of migrants in France and the UK. Second, it will use an online questionnaire survey to generate data on demographics and integration positions of migrants, the scope of integration support services provided, and patterns explaining valuation and exchange of migrants’ cultural capital to create certain stereotypes and channel them into specific occupations. We will combine online and face-to-face questionnaires to better understand mobile lives as they allow to trace the experiences of migrants “in-between” locations and follow migrants who are likely to move during the period of research. Third, the study will conduct interviews with migrants to examine the relationships between their personal biographies, accumulation and transformation of cultural capital in the immigration experience, with respect to different axes of social differentiation (gender, age, ethnicity etc.). Migrants will be asked to keep photo and video diaries (after de Leeuw, 2005), in which they will record their activities using key themes (emotional perceptions, “success”, integration).
The research will be carried out in 4 cities in Wales and France: Swansea and Cardiff (as a Wales capital) in the UK (‘Cities of Sanctuary’ that provide specific support for migrants), and Paris (as a French capital); and another city that will be chosen in France do not have commitment to providing help to migrants, a regional centre in France not too far from Paris (maybe Poitiers). This project considers migration impacts both at national scale and local scales and within urban contexts.


Candidates must hold a Master's degree in human geography.For candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (with 6.0 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our website for a list of acceptable English language tests.  We prefer candidates to have already met the English Language requirements at the point of application, although this is not a requirement.Candidates must also be fluent in French.Candidates must be proficient in the use of both qualitative research methods (interviews, analysis of photo and video material) and quantitative methods (statistical surveys). These methods will be used to carry out discourse analysis and online surveys, for example.Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only.


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This is a three-year fully-funded scholarship which covers UK/EU tuition fees and a monthly stipend of approximately €1350/£1195. This project is jointly funded by the College of Science, Swansea University and LabEx DynamiTe.  Swansea University and LabEx DynamiTe will each finance 18 months.
The student will spend 18 months at LabEx DynamiTe and 18 months at CMPR, Swansea University.


Please visit our website for more information.

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