Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

The horizon’s limits: becoming the global middle class in two UK international schools

Cottrell, Hannah Lucille (2023) The horizon’s limits: becoming the global middle class in two UK international schools. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (1MB)


Based on 18 months of comparative ethnographic research with students attending an international IB school and international Japanese school in the UK, this thesis investigates how students prepared for, navigated, and imagined their future educational and life transitions. My work explores the multitude of ways students experienced and understood school missions to cultivate global mindedness, as well as the challenges and anxieties over succeeding in realising their self-potentialities. This research complicates narratives of consumerist education by considering fears of downward social mobility, perceived precarity, as well as the achievability and desirability of cosmopolitanism for global middle class students. This thesis focuses on the complex ways in which global educational institutions, national educational policies, international job markets, structural inequalities, and family expectations, intersect to create aspirational pathways for students. I argue that the current globalised and corporatised education system of international schools offers a false promise of success, where educational opportunities are not equally accessible. Overall, this thesis explores the challenges of becoming the global middle class as a relational project through the student lens, contributing to a small but growing area of anthropological research on international schooling. Finally, this thesis offers a critique of cosmopolitan credentialism to illustrate not only how situated inequalities are reproduced and sustained through market driven education, but the effect that this has on students as agents navigating this system, challenging the reader to consider what’s at stake for young people in the marketisation of education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2023 Hannah Lucille Cottrell
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Bear, Laura and Long, Nick

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics