'Cosmopolitans and cliques': Everyday socialisation among Tamil student and young professional migrants to the UK

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Among student and young professional migrants to the UK the opportunity for a global or cosmopolitan experience emerges as a motivating factor for migration. This article takes the example of student and young professional migrants to the UK from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and explores how this cosmopolitan ambition plays out in the formation of UK social networks. Two ‘types’ of research participant are identified; ‘self-conscious cosmopolitans’ whose social networks are cross-ethnic, and others whose networks are largely co-ethnic and who are often derided by their self-consciously cosmopolitan counterparts as ‘clannish’ or ‘cliquey’. The article asks how ethnicity emerges as salient (or not) in these migrants’ talk and practice around UK social network formations. It then considers whether a co-ethnic social network necessarily limits the cosmopolitan experience, or whether this interpretation reflects a narrow
understanding of cosmopolitanism which excludes the multiple inter-cultural encounters these migrants experience in their everyday lives.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-437
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013