Regional structures of feeling? A spatially and socially differentiated analysis of UK student im/mobility

Michael Donnelly, Sol Gamsu

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This article explores the patterning of student im/mobility internally within the United Kingdom, using exceptionally detailed student records data on full-time undergraduate entrants from 2014. For this cohort of students, geographic mobility was clearly the preserve of the most socio-economically advantaged, and was less common for Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups. Significantly, the student’s ‘home’ region emerges as the most important factor driving im/mobility even when social, ethnic and educational differences are held constant. The concept ‘structures of feeling’ can help make sense of immobility in areas of the North-East, North-West and Wales, where students are likely to look on higher education choice through a different lens of accumulated and contemporary, inter-generational cultural experience. Exploring exceptions to the dominant trends, we also find a more complex patterning of im/mobility that is likely to reflect the deep historical and structural framing of young people’s socio-spatial horizons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-981
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number7
Early online date12 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2018


  • Mobility
  • ethnicity
  • higher education
  • place
  • regional identity
  • social class

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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