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Title: Migration for 'work and play' : hierarchies of privilege among Youth Mobility Scheme participants in London
Author: Thaiparambil Oommen, Elsa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 5452
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis is the first academic study of participants on the UK Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS), which replaced the earlier Working Holidaymaker Scheme in 2008. It foregrounds the sociologically informed framework of ‘lifestyle migration’ to understand YMS participants as migrants. In doing so, the thesis contends that binaries between tourism/migration, and tourism/work have oversimplified contemporary practices of youth mobility, and not addressed the ways in which they are increasingly regulated through state immigration regimes. Thus, the thesis begins by examining the policies regulating youth entry for ‘work and play’, tracing their historical context, silences and ‘dividing practices’. The thesis then draws on interviews with 29 men and women on YMS visas in 2014-2015, living and working in London, from seven of the eight countries eligible for the Scheme. Participant observation and social media analysis complement these interviews and policy analysis, comprising innovative multiple methods that address the ‘mobile field’. The retrospective motivations of young people participating in the scheme are analysed, together with their working lives and opportunities for leisure. The overall contention is that hierarchies of privilege shape the motivations, access, and experiences of YMS participants, constituted through gender, ‘race’/ethnicity, social class and nationality, with particularly marked fissures between those from Old Commonwealth countries and those from East Asian countries. In pursuit of this thesis four distinctive claims are made. First, the construction of ‘mobile subjects’ on YMS corresponds to ‘dividing practices’ and silences in the policy, funnelling ‘desirable’ and ‘non-risk’ participants to the UK and favouring those from the Old Commonwealth. Second, participants’ motivations to pursue YMS are influenced both by their national mobility imaginings, shaped alongside different historic-colonial links with Britain, and by personal reasons both practical and strategic. Third, participants’ experiences of labour market participation are both surprisingly diverse and polarised according to privileges stemming from nationality, gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, first language and historic mobilities to the UK. Finally, these differential sources of privilege contour the participants’ practices of ‘play’/leisure, resulting in largely ethnocentric and insular experiences that contradict the common scholarly association of youth mobility with cosmopolitanism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Chancellor International Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor