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

Goodwin-Hawkins, Bryonny ORCID: 0000-0002-9399-5486 and Jones, Rhys D (2022) Rethinking lifestyle and middle‐class migration in “left behind” regions. Population, Space and Place, 28 (8). e2495. doi:10.1002/psp.2495

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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.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Affordability; Left behind regions; Lifestyle; Migration; Spatial inequalities; Wales
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Rhiannon Goodland
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2021 09:01
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2022 11:45

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