Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Living Here, Working There: Elite Migrants at the Interstices of Global Trade and Culture

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Living Here, Working There: Elite Migrants at the Interstices of Global Trade and Culture

Article excerpt

Elite Migrants at the Interstices of Global Trade and Culture

More migrants are living in multiple places than ever before. According to the United Nations' 2014 report on the movement of people there were 230 million migrants in the world in 2013. In 2015 this figure increased significantly with the migration of peoples from the Middle East and Africa to Europe. The current movement of people renews concerns for what it means to belong to multiple societies at a time of heightened global conflict and security.

Distinct patterns of migration have emerged. One of those distinctions is the rise in the migration of elites from developing to developed countries. The movement of highly skilled elites, for educational and professional opportunities, symbolizes the phenomenon called 'brain drain.' The global movement of elites from developing countries to developed countries raises concerns among policymakers and social theorists about local versus global productivity and development [1]. When originating societies loose these assets many policymakers fear local productivity would decline and economic development slowed.

A second distinction in migration studies is the management of global and local forms of belonging among migrant populations. This study focuses on the global and local (glocal) experience of twenty elite migrants, highly skilled or educated migrants. Their immigration stories are often under reported yet their impact on societies is important and relevant because of the role they play in shaping societies and economies [2]. Elites have human capital or currency and are often characterized as builders or representatives of political and economic power structures. Mills [2] classified them as power elites; they are usually professionals in societal institutions from business corporations to political and government agencies, including the military and educational institutions. More than forty years later, Castells [3-5] highlighted the role of this group in globalization and the impact they have on global capitalism through financial markets, technologies, trade and labor.

Robinson [1] proposed competing groups of elites have emerged in contemporary forms of globalization, national and transnational elites. Robinson, in his critical analysis of Saskia Sassen's work on the Sociology of Globalization, contends there is a "leading strata among national capitalist classes in both the North and South' who are experiencing "ongoing integration across borders into an emergent transnational capitalist class (TCC) and at whose apex is a transnational managerial elite". This study examines two intercultural issues among transnational elites: multiple identities and belonging. These issues have implications for how we interpret issues of citizenship, loyalty, and identity in the twenty-first century.

The multiple belongings thesis expands the cultural transient argument of Onwumechili, Nwosu and Jackson [6]. Onwumechili, Nwosu and Jackson contend there is very little research that examines the phenomenon of re-migration of Americans or other Westerners to their home countries. Their study examines the frequent return to the home countries of Asians, West Africans and Mexicans and the negotiation of cultural identity as people move back and forth across cultures. Onwumechili, Nwosu and Jackson believe identity is complicated as a result of multiple reacculturations through frequent returns to the home countries. For the participants of this study, elite migrants, cultural transience is also evident not only through physical returns to their home countries but also through mediated returns through the use of communication technologies which helps them to simulate a cross cultural experience that immerses them in two or more cultures simultaneously. As such, several questions emerge, how frequently does the reacculturation process take place for these migrants in these simulated cross-cultural experiences? …

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