Career habitus, capital, field and boundaries: Self-initiated expatriate migrant careers of south Asian professionals and managers in Australia
- The Journal of Developing Areas
- Tennessee State University College of Business
- Volume 50, Number 5, 2016 (Special Issue)
- pp. 517-524
- Additional Information
Developed nations with labor shortages encourage migration from particular categories so that their economic progress is not hampered due to lack of skilled professionals. This research explored the importance of career habitus as an important factor in establishing the career boundaries of the South Asian self-initiated expatriates (SIE) professionals and managers in Australia. A person’s habitus is composed of cultural, social and symbolic capital that, together, form the particular social space that they occupy within certain social conditions. Skilled professionals from South Asia arrive in Australia in significant numbers every year. SIE professionals and managers are individuals who arrive in Australia as skilled migrants. This migration is based upon the assessment of their skills by the Australian Department of Immigration. To explore the careers of SIEs in Australia, in-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted with 21 participants from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In employing a mixed method research strategy, this research combined two qualitative methodologies of phenomenology and analysis of narratives in the collection and analysis of data. The phenomenological and analysis of narrative techniques complement each other as lived experience of the SIE professionals and managers of this study as their reality, embedded in their narratives which revealed the phenomenon under study in this research. The narratives of the migrants of this study are the stories which revealed the process which brought them to that reality, which gave them their new identities in their new home country, Australia. This study presents three types of SIE career habitus and in doing so illuminates the connection between career habitus, career capital, career field, and career boundaries. The results suggest that as the participants attempted to establish new careers, they encountered a new career field in which they develop one of three types of career habitus: adopter, entrepreneur, and exile. Each of these had particular sets of career capital and career boundaries. This analysis illuminated the importance of career habitus as an important factor in establishing the career boundaries of the participants that in turn connected to how an their career unfolded. The findings of this study are limited to the Australian context. In spite of this limitation, it does illustrate the value of employing the concept of habitus to understanding SIE migrant careers and raises questions worthy of further research.