Rethinking lifestyle and middle-class migration in “left behind” regions

Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Rhys Dafydd Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
135 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

So-called “left behind” regions have gained infamy for working-class discontent. Yet a concurrent phenomenon has gone unremarked: middle-class lifestyles in peripheral places. This article examines how middle-class migrants (defined by economic, social, and cultural capital) to peripheral regions envisage and enact their aspirations. Against presumed migration trajectories to growing urban centres or for better-paid employment, we argue that seeming moves down the “escalator” reveal how inequalities between regions offer some migrants opportunities to enact middle-class lifestyles affordably. We present a qualitative case study of West Wales and the Valleys, predominantly rural and post-industrial and statistically among Europe's most deprived regions. Drawing from interviews with EU and UK in-migrants alongside long-term residents, we illustrate how three dimensions of quality of life—material, relational, subjective—are mobilised in middle-class placemaking amidst peripherality. We demonstrate how spatial inequalities and career trade-offs offer affordable material access to lifestyle and how middle-class aspirations enable migrants to subjectively transform peripherality into enchantment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2495
Number of pages12
JournalPopulation, Space, and Place
Volume28
Issue number8
Early online date15 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • SPECIAL ISSUE PAPER
  • SPECIAL ISSUE PAPERS
  • Wales
  • affordability
  • left behind regions
  • lifestyle
  • migration
  • spatial inequalities

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