Spatial structures of student mobility: Social, economic and ethnic ‘geometries of power’

Michael Donnelly, Sol Gamsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


There now exists a growing literature on educational mobilities, and this paper contributes to understanding the way contemporary youth imagine the geography of the United Kingdom and how this translates to their mobility intentions. Using Giddens and Massey and drawing on a unique multi-sited qualitative dataset, we examine how these flows can be understood as embedded within narratives of the self that are situated within a particular spatial structuring of social, economic, and ethnic difference. The multi-sited dataset provides a unique opportunity to see the simultaneity of these social relations across space, mutually shaping, and reshaping each other over time. We illustrate how embedded within imagined mobility narratives are deeply unequal structures of economic power, (re)producing oppressed and dominant positions across social and geographic space. Geometries of race and ethnicity are also shown to structure the ways in which different ethnic groups look upon the geography of their university choices. The patterning of these imagined spatial flows around the United Kingdom at the point of university entry can be interpreted as one further manifestation of deep-seated geometries of power that pervade social life.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2293
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number3
Early online date18 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Giddens
  • Massey
  • power
  • space
  • student mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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