Claire Maxwell

Claire Maxwell


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    My sociological research contributions are concerned with the practices of dominant social classes and high-skilled professional groups – examining how processes of internationalisation and mobility mediate the desires and social relations fostered by these highly-resourced groups across different spaces.

    For many years I focused on ‘elite education’ - examining how education plays a critical role in the formation and reproduction of social class privilege.  This included comparative analyses of developments in different parts of the world, as well as a focus on how imperatives to internationalise and produce ‘global citizens’ are re-shaping the provision of elite forms of education.

    Emerging from some of this work has been the concept of ‘cosmopolitan nationalism’ – a frame through which to examine how internationalisation and desires to be globally engaged are differentially drawn on by institutions, policies and dominant social groups to advance their own interests.  Critically, however, there are also instances where such attempts to re-purpose these agendas have demonstrated the potential to disrupt relations of inequality.

    At present, I am examining the question of whether there is an empirical basis for a ‘global middle class’ – a dominant social group argued to be de-territorialised from the nation state.  Through a focus on globally mobile professionals, living in different parts of the world, I am studying how family practices, school choices and articulations of identity are shaped by relations to ‘home’, degree and type of mobility, and national and ethnic positioning.

    Linked to this, is a specific focus on the incorporation of highly-skilled professionals and their families into Danish work-life and society.  Here, I am leading a new research study SkillsINCORP (funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark) on this topic. I am also, together with a team of commercially focused partners, leading the development ofinnovative tools to support small- and medium-sized Danish enterprises approach the recruitment and retention of globally mobile professionals (funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark).

    I joined the University of Copenhagen’s Sociology Department in September 2018, having moved from University College London.

    I am co-editor of the the Comparative & International Education Society’s only book series – Education in Global Perspectives and until 2024 was the co-editor of the journal International Studies in Sociology of Education.

    My latest books are: Sociological Foundations of Education and Nurturing Mobilities. Family travel in the 21st century.

    Office hours for spring semester 2024: Thursdays 12.00-13.00 in 16.1.39

    Primary fields of research

    • Sociology of education
    • Globally mobile professionals / the global middle classes
    • Elites and elite education
    • Internationalisation of education
    • Social justice in privileging spaces

    Current research

    1. SkillsINCORP - redefining incorporation of high-skilled professionals

    Mobility of skills across borders is not frictionless.  Yet, increasingly economies need highly-skilled professionals to be mobile to fill critical gaps.  So how can we ensure that companies and broader society are able to fully realise the potential contributions these people can bring?

    This project will examine the processes that affect how international high-skilled professionals experience taking up their new roles in Danish companies.  To what extent is their expertise drawn on, are all their skills and experiences transferred into their new jobs, how do they become a core part of the business, and what makes them stay?

    Simultaneously we will follow professionals and their families’ experiences of moving into new social and residential communities.  This will allow us to untangle how processes of skills and social incorporation are inter-connected.

    This will be the first study to research the perspectives of high-skilled professionals, their partners and children, as well as their employers together.

    Independent Research Fund Denmark [Oct 2022 to Sept 2025]


    2. Project Onboard Denmark - innovating onboarding of international specialist in Danish SMEs

    Drawing on new research, the team lead by a university professor, will work collaboratively across leadership and diversity & inclusion experts, business development organizations, and companies themselves to develop, test and build digital onboarding tools to facilitate the recruitment, onboarding and retention of international high-skilled professionals in Denmark.  The project targets small and medium-sized enterprises in Denmark.

    Innovation Fund Denmark – Grand Solutions GS20-3 [April 2021- January 2024]

    The final digital product can be found at: Onboard Denmark

    The final research findings can be found here: Research outputs


    3. Mobilities & belonging of high-skilled professional families

    Drawing on, to date, six different studies, focusing on globally mobile families living in various parts of the world – we examine school choices, identification with a ‘home’ nation, narratives of global citizenship, imagined future trajectories, and the accumulation and transferability of capitals across transnational and also national spaces.

    Funding from: Israeli Science Foundation 222/20 International Collaborator working with Professor Miri Yemini [Octoer 2020-October 2023] & British Association of Comparative and International Education [2018-2019]

    Selected key publications to emerge so far:

    Maxwell, C., Yemini, M. & Gutman, M. (2022) ‘National cultural capital as out of reach for transnationally mobile Israeli professional families - making a ‘return home’ fraught’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, online 14 December.

    Maxwell. C., Yemini, M. & Bach, K. (2021) Nurturing Mobilities. Family Travel in the 21st Century. London: Routledge.

    Yemini, M., Maxwell, C., Koh, A., Tucker, K., Barrenechea, I. & Beech, J. (2020) ‘Mobile nationalism: parenting and articulations of belonging among globally mobile professionals’, Sociology, 54(6):1212-1229.

    Maxwell, C. & Yemini. M. (2019) ‘Modalities of cosmopolitanism and mobility: parental education strategies of global, immigrant and local middle-class Israelis’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 40(5): 616-632.

    ID: 201662750