School of Education

Cosmopolitan Brands: graduate students navigating the social space of elite global universities

Published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, this new article is co-written by Martin Myers and Kalwant Bhopal (University of Birmingham)

Martin Myers is an Assistant Professor in Education and a member of the Centre for International Education Research.


Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of the competition for economic, social and cultural capitals within educational fields, this article reports empirical research from 49 in-depth interviews with graduate students at four elite universities in the USA and the UK. It argues the brands of elite global universities work to reproduce social and cultural capital for a small cohort of elite students, and by doing so perpetuate and reinforce systems that privilege a select few. By drawing upon student narratives, our findings demonstrate the cosmopolitan nature of elite university brands. These ‘Cosmopolitan Brands’ are immersed in local and highly exclusive practices which reinforce wider inequalities of social class. We explore how individual students navigate their immersion and positioning within the brands of global elite universities; competing first as students at university before progressing to compete for power and status within global economies.

Please visit the publisher's website to access the full article.

Posted on Wednesday 30th June 2021

School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

Contact us