Theorizing Mobilities in Children’s Educational Experiences: Promises and Pitfalls

  • Johanna L. Waters
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 6)


This chapter considers why is it that mobility is so revered within discussions of educational experiences and attempts to stress the complexity of mobilities. A recent interest in mobilities within work on education has tended to emphasize the positive outcomes for mobile individuals (access to a “better” education, more cultural capital, and so on). This chapter focuses upon academic literature on mobilities within/from Asia, to consider why mobility appears to be venerated and how empirical studies have uncovered less observed “pitfalls” of educational migration. It discusses the role of cultural capital and the importance of gender, language, and young people as embodied sites for the accumulation of capital.


Education Children’s migration East Asia Accumulation strategies Gender 


  1. Ball, S. J., Bowe, R., & Gewirtz, S. (1995). Circuits of schooling: A sociological exploration of parental choice of school in social-class contexts. Sociological Review, 43(1), 52–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bohr, Y., & Tse, C. (2009). Satellite babies in transnational families: A study of parents’ decision to separate from their infants. Infant Mental Health Journal, 30(3), 265–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bondi, L., & Matthews, M. H. (Eds.). (1988). Education and society studies in the politics, sociology and geography of education. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction; a Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste Cambridge Massachusetts, Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brooks, R., & Waters, J. (2011). Student mobilities, migration and the internationalization of higher education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, P. (1995). Cultural capital and social exclusion: Some observations on recent trends in education, employment, and the labour market. Work, Employment and Society, 9, 29–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chew, P. G. (2010). Linguistic capital, study mothers and the transnational family in Singapore. In V. Vaish (Ed.), Globalization of language and culture in Asia (pp. 82–105). Continuum: London.Google Scholar
  9. Choi, P. K. (2003). ‘The best students will learn English’: Ultra-utilitarianism and linguistic imperialism in education in post-1997 Hong Kong. Journal of Education Policy, 18(6), 673–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chua, A. (2011). Battle hymn of the tiger mother. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  11. Education Bureau (2007). Government of Hong Kong (Accessed 20th April 2008).
  12. Findlay, A., King, R., Smith, F., Geddes, A., & Skeldon, R. (2012). World class? An investigation of globalisation, difference and international student mobility. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 37(1), 118–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ho, E. (2002). Multi-local residence, transnational networks: Chinese ‘astronaut’ families in New Zealand. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 11(1), 145–164.Google Scholar
  14. Holdsworth, C. (2013). Family and Intimate Mobilities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Huang, S., & Yeoh, B. (2005). Transnational families and their children’s education: China’s ‘study mothers’ in Singapore. Global Networks, 5(4), 379–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huang, S., & Yeoh, B. (2011). Navigating the terrains of transnational education: Children of Chinese ‘study mothers’ in Singapore. Geoforum, 42, 394–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kang, J., & Abelmann, N. (2011). The domestication of South Korean Pre-College Study Abroad in the first decade of the millennium. The Journal of Korean Studies, 16(1), 89–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Katz, C. (2008). Childhood as spectacle: Relays of anxiety and the reconfiguration of the child. Cultural Geographies, 15, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kim, J. (2010). Downed’ and stuck in Singapore: Lower/middle class South Korean wild geese (kirogi) children in Singapore. Research in Sociology of Education, 17, 271–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kobayashi, A., & Preston, V. (2007). Transnationalism through the life course: Hong Kong immigrants in Canada. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 48(2), 151–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lam, T., Yeoh, B., & Law, L. (2002). Sustaining families transnationally: Chinese-Malaysians in Singapore. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 11(1), 117–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee, Y., & Koo, H. (2006). ‘Wild geese fathers’ and a globalised family strategy for education in Korea. IDPR, 28(4), 533–553.Google Scholar
  23. Leung, M., & Waters, J. (2013). British degrees made in Hong Kong: An enquiry into the role of space and place in transnational education. Asia Pacific Education Review, 14(1), 43–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ley, D. (2010). Millionaire migrants: Trans-Pacific lifelines. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liang, L. (2010). Black June. Education Guardian 29 June: 3.Google Scholar
  26. Madge, C., Raghuram, P., & Noxolo, P. (2009). Engaged pedagogy and responsibility: A postcolonial analysis of international students. Geoforum, 40, 34–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Man, G. (1995). The experience of women in Chinese immigrant families: An inquiry into institutional and organizational processes. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 4(2–3), 303–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mitchell, K. (1997). Transnational subjects: Constituting the cultural citizen in the era of Pacific Rim Capital. In A. Ong & D. Nonini (Eds.), Ungrounded empires: The cultural politics of modern Chinese transnationalism (pp. 228–256). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. OECD (2012) Education at a Glance Paris, OECD Publications.Google Scholar
  30. Ong, A. (1999). Flexible citizenship; the cultural logics of transnationality. Durham/London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Onishi, N. (2008). For studies in English, Koreans say goodbye to dad. The New York Times 8 June 2008.
  32. Orellana, M., Thorne, B., Chee, A., & Lam, W. (2001). Transnational childhoods: The participation of children in processes of family migration. Social Problems, 48(4), 572–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Park, S., & Abelmann, N. (2004). Class and cosmopolitan striving: Mothers’ management of English education in South Korea. Anthropological Quarterly, 77, 645–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Park, J., & Bae, S. (2009). Language ideologies in educational migration: Korean jogi yuhak families in Singapore. Linguistics and Education, 20, 366–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pe-Pua, R., Mitchell, C., Iredale, R., & Castles, S. (1996). Astronaut families and parachute children: The cycle of migration between Hong Kong and Australia. Wollongong: Centre for Multicultural Studies, University of Wollongong.Google Scholar
  36. Seth, M. (2002). Education fever: Society, politics, and the pursuit of schooling in South Korea. Hawai‘i: University of Hawa‘I Press.Google Scholar
  37. Teo, S. Y. (2007). Vancouver’s newest Chinese diaspora: Settlers or ‘immigrant prisoners’? Geojournal, 68, 211–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Urry, J. (2000). Sociology beyond societies: Mobilities for the twenty-first century. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Waters, J. L. (2002). Flexible families? ‘Astronaut’ households and the experiences of lone mothers in Vancouver, British Columbia. Social and Cultural Geography, 3(2), 117–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Waters, J. L. (2003). Satellite Kids’ in Vancouver: Transnational migration, education and the experiences of lone children. In M. W. Charney, B. S. A. Yeoh, & C. K. Tong (Eds.), Asian migrants and education (pp. 165–184). Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Waters, J. L. (2006). Geographies of cultural capital: Education, international migration and family strategies between Hong Kong and Canada. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 31(2), 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Waters, J. L. (2008). Education, migration and cultural capital in the Chinese diaspora: Transnational students between Hong Kong and Canada. New York: Cambria Press.Google Scholar
  43. Waters, J. L. (2009). Transnational geographies of academic distinction: The role of social capital in the recognition and evaluation of ‘overseas’ credentials. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 7(2), 113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Waters, J. L. (2010). Becoming a father, missing a wife: Chinese transnational families and the male experience of lone parenting in Canada. Population Space and Place, 16(1), 63–74.Google Scholar
  45. Waters, J. L. (2011). Time and transnationalism: A longitudinal study of immigration, endurance and settlement in Canada. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37(7), 1119–1135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Waters, J.L. (2012). Geographies of international education: mobilities and the reproduction of social (dis)advantage. Geography Compass, 6(3), 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Waters, J. (2015). Educational imperatives and the compulsion for credentials: family migration and children's education in East Asia. Children's Geographies, 13(3), 280–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Waters, J., & Leung, M. (2013a). Immobile transnationalisms? Young people and their in situ experiences of ‘international’ education in Hong Kong. Urban Studies, 50(3), 606–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Waters, J., & Leung, M. (2013b). Young people and the reproduction of disadvantage through transnational higher education in Hong Kong. Sociological Research Online, 17(3).Google Scholar
  50. Waters, J., & Leung, M. (2014). ‘These are not the best students’: Continuing education, transnationalisation and Hong Kong’s young adult ‘educational non-elite’. Children’s Geographies, 12(1), 56–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Xiang, B., & Shen, W. (2009). International student migration and social stratification in China. International Journal of Educational Development, 29, 513–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhou, M. (1998). Parachute kids’ in Southern California: The educational experience of Chinese children in transnational families. Educational Policy, 12(6), 682–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Continuing Education and School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations