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Title: Law and the construction of highly skilled migrant identity in the United Kingdom
Author: Adams, Sally Linda
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 437X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines how contemporary immigration law contributes to shaping highly skilled migrants' self- and social identities in the United Kingdom at a time when migration has become the subject of much political and public concern. Applying a socio-legal and interdisciplinary approach, the study combines legal analysis with empirical research and draws on literature on high-skilled migration, legal history, media analysis, racialisation and law and identity. Qualitative interviews were conducted with Australian and Indian nationals living in south-east England who held or had previously held highly skilled migrant immigration status in the United Kingdom. A media analysis based on news stories on high-skilled and skilled migration in the British national press in 2010 was also undertaken. The thesis reaches the following key conclusions. First, it finds that the highly skilled migrant is an unstable social identity. Although the media construction of the highly skilled migrant is distinct from the public depiction of other migrant groups, it is a thin social identity, predicated on highly skilled migrants' perceived economic value. Second, the highly skilled migrant is a racialised social identity with negative media portrayals reserved for non-white migrants. The third finding is that law is an integral part of highly skilled migrants' day-to-day experiences and plays a significant role in their self-identity formation. Not only does law, in the form of visa conditions, shape their everyday social relations, highly skilled migrants also strongly identify as economic contributors and perceive their relationship with the British state as largely transactional. This economic framing of their self-identity aligns with the figure of the highly skilled migrant constructed by policymakers and the media. Fourth, highly skilled migrants tend to regard their immigration status (and therefore their ability to continue living in the United Kingdom) as insecure which manifests in an ambivalence towards their immigration status. This uncertainty stems in large part from their encounters with immigration law in action, that is, their experiences of the mutable complexities of the visa process.
Supervisor: Bowling, Benjamin ; Player, Elaine Beryl Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available