Dissertation Abstracts

The Reproduction of Elite Mobilities in Washington D.C.

Author: Felix Schubert, felix.schubert1986@gmail.com
Department: School of Marketing, Tourism & Languages
University: Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Kevin Hannam & Ivana Rihova
Year of completion: 2018
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Mobilities , Students , Washington , Elites
Areas of Research: Migration , Education , Social Classes and Social Movements


In this thesis, I seek to analyse the reproduction of elite mobilities through participation in Study Internship Programmes (SIP) in Washington D.C. SIPs are programmes for both American as well as international students that come to Washington and participate in a programme that combines an academic track on specific topics with an internship. These programmes can be seen as exemplars of a specialised form of neoliberal education in which middle-class students attempt to acquire mobility capital in the hope of accelerating their future careers. With the help of in-depth interviews and ethnographic methods, I have gathered data about the SIPs which were analysed via textual analysis. I conducted interviews with SIP-alumni, with current SIP-students as well as stakeholders in these programmes. As a theoretical framework, I have utilised a mobilities perspective, along with ideas on individualisation and cosmopolitan capital to develop a framework for study-internship research. I argue that students go to Washington to acquire mobility and cosmopolitan capital, as this might offer a competitive edge. I explore how SIPs affect and transform its participants, their career paths and mobilities, as well as the city of Washington D.C itself as a place. My research showcases the layered identities of the participants through their mobilities, and how their mobilities are connected to the city of Washington D.C., and the key institutions involved. The research also demonstrates that SIPs are indicative of broader career patterns and mobility decision-making among young people in the West. Furthermore, my research indicates how integral the images of Washington D.C. and career-narratives are to the reproduction of elites and to Washington D.C.’s image of power for the SIP-participants to represent their success and aspirations.