Resettling notions of social mobility: locating refugees as 'educable' and 'employable'

Jill Koyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The global movement of people alters our understandings of social mobility. Here, I draw on ethnographic data collected since January 2011 and utilize the notion of assemblage to document and analyze how disparate people, their material objects, and discursive practices are brought together to render refugees as educable, productive, and employable in the United States. I examine the adaptations that result when livelihood paths and educational opportunities become paradoxically diverse due to transnational migrations and are constrained by localized politico-economic environments. My findings complicate the assumption that formal education represents an enduring pathway or necessary precursor to upward social mobility. As refugees are required by resettling agents to become economically self-sufficient as soon as possible, formal education such as English-as-a-second-language courses can limit initial employment opportunities and narrowing families' livelihood strategies upon resettlement, especially during the recent economic downturn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-965
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • actor-network theory
  • education
  • immigrants
  • refugees
  • social mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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