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London is a much more interesting place than Paris: Place comparison and moral geographies of highly skilled migrants

Mulholland, Jon; Ryan, Louise


Louise Ryan


Micheline Van Riemsdijk

Qingfang Wang


Drawing on data from a study of the French highly skilled in London, this paper explores the nature and dynamics of a migrant population’s ‘sense of place’ in a global city. Specifically, it examines some of the ways in which highly skilled migrants construct their own moral geographies through the recursive relationship that forms between the affective qualities of their cities of dwelling, their own status-related perceptions, and their day-to-day space-making practices. We assert that the moral geographies associated with the formulation of highly skilled migrants’ ‘sense of place’ must be understood as an outcome of this complex dynamic, but also produced through the deployment of what we would refer to as a ‘grounded comparative epistemology of place’, in this case through the juxtapositioning of the qualities of London and Paris. By a ‘grounded comparative epistemology of place’ we suggest a process whereby ‘senses of place’ are actively constructed through a complex play of lived experiences, imaginings, and the affective qualities of a place, but importantly via evaluative comparative practices where particular, ‘significant other places’, are selected to furnish evaluations of current places of dwelling.


Mulholland, J., & Ryan, L. (2016). London is a much more interesting place than Paris: Place comparison and moral geographies of highly skilled migrants. In M. Van Riemsdijk, & Q. Wang (Eds.), Rethinking International Skilled Migration (135-153). London: Routledge

Publication Date Oct 5, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 29, 2017
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 135-153
Series Title Regions and Cities
Book Title Rethinking International Skilled Migration
ISBN 9781138918726
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Rethinking International Skilled Migration on 5th October 2016, available online:


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