Ideological migration
: lifestyle, belonging and the geographical imagination between London and São Paulo

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis uses Brazilian migration to London to explore the ideological aspects of people’s motivations for and experiences of mobility and immobility. It stems from nine months of fieldwork consisting of sixty-three recorded interviews as well as participant observation and unrecorded interviews in London and São Paulo. The thesis seeks to critically examine the concept of lifestyle migration by applying it to Brazilian migration to London. Lifestyle migration is a term traditionally associated with migration from or within the Global North but can also be usefully applied to middle-class migration from the Global South. For the migrants themselves, lifestyle migration appears to be informed by an individualist ideology and is thus related to their geographical imaginary of London as a ‘world city’ and themselves as ‘world citizens’. In their rhetoric and practices as migrants, this imaginary is contrasted with the collectivist imaginary of London’s transnational Brazilian ‘community’. The thesis also employs the ideas of ‘lifestyle’ and the geographical imagination to those who remain in Brazil to explore how immobility is rationalised and experienced by those with the socio-economic means to emigrate but who do not. The thesis ultimately frames class as a key marker of difference amongst migrants. It thus problematises the idea of homogeneity amongst migrant diasporas, showing how social class, racial and regional disparities in Brazil are reinterpreted through migration. Finally, it reveals how the rise of populism has complicated people’s experience of immobility as belonging, leading to contested understandings of national identity and citizenship for those who remain in Brazil.
Date of Award1 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorNissa Finney (Supervisor), David McCollum (Supervisor), Sharon Leahy (Supervisor) & Nina Laurie (Supervisor)

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