Claire Maxwell

Claire Maxwell


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    My sociological research contributions are concerned with the practices of dominant social classes – and how institutions and processes of internationalisation 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 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, in an effort to develop more practice-oriented contributions to knowledge, I am working with a team of commercially focused partners to support innovations in the way small- and medium-sized Danish enterprises approach the recruitment and retention of globally mobile professionals.

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

    I am co-editor of the journal - International Studies in Sociology of Education (

    My latest book is: Nurturing Mobilities. Family travel in the 21st century.

    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

    ODIS – Onboarding in Danish SMEs of International Specialists - innovating this space

    Creating an evidence-based and sustainable ‘Onboarding Package’ of resources that will facilitate the recruitment and retention of international specialists in Denmark, with a focus on innovation and export growth within SMEs. Partnership with five non-academic organisations.

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


    Mobility, belonging, and imagined futures: Exploration of globally mobile families in four cities

    Examining how children, who live in families where at least one parent is a high-skilled professional relocating regularly for work, experience mobility. The focus is on schooling, identification with a ‘home’ nation, narratives of global citizenship and imagined future trajectories.

    Israeli Science Foundation 222/20 International Collaborator working with Professor Miri Yemini [Octoer 2020-October 2023]

    ID: 201662750