Transnational competences and cultural capital: the experiences of two groups of highly educated returnees to Serbia

Predojević-Despić, Jelena (2022) Transnational competences and cultural capital: the experiences of two groups of highly educated returnees to Serbia. Stanovništvo, 60 (1). pp. 117-138. ISSN 0038-982X eISSN 2217-3986

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The aim of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of the transnational competencies and cultural capital of migrants, as well as the mechanism of their transfer after returning to their countries of origin, based on Bourdieu’s conception of cultural capital. Using the example of two groups of highly educated returnees to Serbia – scientists and artists – the paper analyses the possibilities of the reproduction of cultural capital in a new, transnational context, between countries of origin and destination, as well as processes of transformation and the creation of new forms of cultural capital. Returning to Serbia was a transnational experience for a large number of respondents. This process was gradual, despite their expressed desire to return to live and work in Serbia. In some cases, it lasted for years, or the respondents were professionally present in both communities at the same time. Establishing themselves in several different societies enabled the respondents to open new transnational fields in which cultural capital was transformed and upgraded. This significantly helped them to better understand the differences in the functioning of the society of origin and destination, as well as to develop innovative opportunities to apply better communication and/or transfer knowledge and skills between the two settings. New forms of cultural capital have helped a large number of respondents come to the realisation that getting to know new cultures and improving communication with them brings new qualities and opportunities for global positioning in a professional sense. They also influence the formation of new life aspirations and missions that can spread new cultural practices that are relevant to the wider community. The results of the research show that the two observed groups of highly skilled returnees differ somewhat in the way they have access to institutional support in the process of transferring cultural capital. Artists, especially if they work as freelancers upon their return to Serbia, have a significantly lower opportunity to use institutional support than researchers in science and teaching staff in tertiary education institutions. In that sense, they rely more on social capital, i.e. informal migrant networks, and in that way they look for ways to transform their cultural capital into economic capital. On the other hand, scientific institutes and universities have a relatively high degree of academic engagement and cooperation at both the national and international levels. Therefore, they possess elements of the transnational social field, that is, they represent multiple intertwined networks of professional and social relations through which scientists have the opportunity to exchange, organise, and transform ideas, practices, and resources. Although these processes take place in an uneven way, especially in the transnational context, they provide an opportunity to develop cosmopolitan, transnational cultural capital through the interaction of different types of competencies, which can be transformed into other forms of capital. Finally, it should be noted that the conclusions of this empirical research are based on a non-representative sample and cannot be generalised.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: highly educated migrants, return migration, cultural capital, transnational competences, visokoobrazovani migranti, povratne migracije, kulturni kapital, transnacionalne kompetencije.
Institutional centre: Centre for demographic research
Depositing User: Vesna Jovanović
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2022 18:44
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 18:44

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