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Sociology A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration : Habitus and the Individualizing Process

Caroline Oliver and Karen O'Reilly Sociology 2010 44: 49 DOI: 10.1177/0038038509351627 The online version of this article can be found at:

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2010, Reprints and permissions: BSA Publications Ltd® Volume 44(1): 49–66 DOI: 10.1177/0038038509351627

A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration: Habitus and the Individualizing Process


Caroline Oliver

University of Cambridge


Karen O’Reilly1

Loughborough University


This article explores the phenomenon of lifestyle migration from Britain to Spain to interrogate, empirically, the continued relevance of class in the era of individualizing modernity (Beck, 1994). Lifestyle migrants articulate an anti-materialist rhetoric and their experiences of retirement or self-employment diminish the significance of class divisions. However, as researchers who independently studied similar populations in the Eastern and Western Costa del Sol, we found these societies less ‘classless’ than espoused. Despite attempts to rewrite their own history and to mould a different life trajectory through geographical mobility, migrants were bound by the significance of class through both cultural process and the reproduction of (economic) position. Bourdieu’s...