"Setting myself apart’: Studying abroad and upward social mobility among Mumbai’s youth

Author Name

Nonie Tuxen

Author Address

PhD Candidate Australian National University [email protected]


upward social mobility among Mumbai’s youth


With the rise of the middle class in India, and the increasing importance of transnational mobility as a class marker, international education has become a significant experience for many young urban Indian people. This paper draws on research that seeks to explore how youth in Mumbai imagine international education and its potential impact on their futures, particularly in relation to imaginaries and performances of class and social mobility. Based on interviews conducted with predeparture students and their families, as well as various agents and intermediaries involved in international education, this paper will importantly consider the views of young people from different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as different regional communities and religious orders, within the broad and contested scape of Indian urban ‘middleclassness’. In doing so, it explores how transnational mobility attained through international education is imagined as a way to elevate or maintain class status by pre-departure students. Three key themes are explored in the process of unpacking notions of middleclassness: why students desire international education, how class and mobility interact and overlap, and how participants imagine a classed Other. Overall, the paper argues that imaginaries of class and social mobility are deeply embedded into imaginaries of the meaning and outcomes of studying abroad for young Indians in Mumbai. 


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