Transnational spaces of class: International migrants? multilocal, inconsistent and instable class positions
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Original versionCurrent Sociology. 2018, 1-20. 10.1177/0011392118793676
The sociological study of class, whether Marxist, Weberian or Bourdieusian, has discussed class systems and individuals’ location in these systems within the framework of the nation-state and has largely ignored the presence of a growing population of international migrants in western societies. At the same time, the emerging literature on transnational migration has largely neglected the question of social class. This article argues that the simultaneous privileging of the nation-state and the neglect of social class by these research traditions, respectively, has been unfortunate. Working from a Bourdieusian class perspective, the article discusses how today’s enhanced international migration – whereby actors regularly cross national borders, physically and virtually, and live their everyday lives in multiple social spaces and class systems – produces class systems in which many actors hold multilocal, inconsistent and instable class identities. The discussion employs a mixed methods approach, drawing material from a community in Norway which includes a large population of Eastern European labour migrants recruited by the fish processing industry, to illustrate some key problems with Bourdieusian (and other) class theories’ use of methodological nationalism as an analytical framework and to suggest how transnational theories might better incorporate class perspectives in their analyses.