globally mobile lives + suburban government schooling



This project, which forms Joanne Higginson’s PhD thesis (Melbourne Graduate School of Education), explores how young people attending three mid-socioeconomic government schools in suburban Melbourne, whose families have lived and worked in Australia and other countries, navigate their educational, social and familial worlds and work towards their imagined futures. The focus is on the experiences of those ‘in the middle’, rather than on elite or disadvantaged families, recognising that ‘middling migrants’ have been demographically prominent in recent Australian migration regimes. This is in contrast with many recent studies of globalisation, youth culture and educational experience, which have focused on elite or disadvantaged youth. The thesis engages with social and cultural theories of globalisation, transnationalism and diasporic social worlds. The project investigates perceptions and experiences of mobility, education, opportunity, youth pathways, identities, belonging and place and their interrelationships. It seeks to contextualise young people’s perspectives with historical perspectives of ‘local’ and government schooling within Australia and also with the narratives of their parents’ own educational and life experiences, aiming to capture ideas of globalising social transformations ‘in process’.  

Methodologically, the study aligns with Julie McLeod’s Making Futures. It employed repeat wave, narrative interviews, with students interviewed in their schools and their parents in home and local community settings. Analysis is guided by interpretive strategies drawn from biographical and life history methods, drawing out resonances between individual concerns and broader processes of social and geopolitical change. In view of this broader project and historical contextualisation, participants’ consent forms included options for anonymous interview transcripts, identified by pseudonyms, to be deposited in an archives service, available for other researchers to use in the future. In this sense, the project connects to oral history and mass observation social research traditions, of which some participants were reflexively aware.

Globally Mobile Lives has recently been added to the SOCEY Repository, with materials and data from the project available under open or mediated access.