(University of Kent)
Paper Short Abstract:
How is social mobility imagined and experienced by millenial Portuguese migrants in London? In this paper I examine how individualised understandings, discourses and experiences of 'opportunities', 'good life' and 'becoming someone' are mediated by wider structures of class, education and kinship.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I explore how social mobility is imagined and experienced by university-educated Portuguese migrants of the millennial generation who came to London in the years following the 2011 austerity measures in southern Europe. I maintain that 'social mobility' is embodied and understood by my interlocutors as the search for 'opportunities', 'a good life' and 'becoming someone' via the action of migration. I examine the role of imagination and memory in creating hope and aspirations and ask how individual imaginations, hope and expectations of 'becoming someone' exist alongside historical and imagined household constructions of success, precarity and 'the good life' (Fischer 2014).
Furthermore, I argue that the notion of social mobility needs to be historically embedded, taking into account how imagination and memory are mediated by wider structures of class, education and kinship. I thus interweave temporal concepts of imagination and memory into an analysis of the structural conditions that led to the development of imaginations of social mobility during the pre-austerity years and the arresting of socially mobile imagined futures in subsequent times of precarity (Pine 2014). I suggest that imaginations of social mobility in Portugal are precarious and cyclical, ebbing and flowing over generations (Ortner 1998) and dwelling within webs of social relations, affective reactions and strategies which intersect with local, global and transnational fields of power.
Social mobility in the neoliberal age: practices, relations, expectations, and desires