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Multiple, relational and emotional mobilities: Understanding student mobilities in higher education as more than ‘staying local’ and ‘going away’

Finn, Kirsty (2017) Multiple, relational and emotional mobilities: Understanding student mobilities in higher education as more than ‘staying local’ and ‘going away’. British Educational Research Journal, 43 (4). pp. 743-758. ISSN 0141-1926

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Abstract

This paper advances theorising around student geographies in higher education (HE). It extends recent work, which has problematised the primacy of social class and binary thinking about student mobilities, and presents local/non‐local experiences and im/mobility as a defining dualism. Drawing on a qualitative longitudinal study of women's experiences during and on completion of HE, the following explores the ways in which a more diverse and constantly negotiated set of mobility practices emerge relationally, in the stratified field of HE, and through shifting personal and emotional attachments. Theoretically, the paper develops a new approach to student mobilities, synthesising dominant Bourdieusian notions of field with relational theories pertaining to mobilities (e.g. Adey, 2009), emotion (e.g. Holmes, 2010) and personal life (e.g. Mason, 2004; Smart, 2007). Such an approach makes it possible to move beyond the binary thinking that has become entrenched in policy and academic debates about student mobilities, and recognise a broader range of movements, flows, stops and starts that emerge relationally, emotionally and temporally as students and graduates move into and through HE. It is argued here that, given the policy emphasis on accelerated and flexible HE provision (BIS, 2016), a gradational view of student mobilities is more important than ever.

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