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-resources groups across different spaces.

    At present, I am studying this broader question in two key ways.  First, together with a group of international collaborators, we are examining the lives of the so-called global middle classes, examining how their family practices, school choices and articulations of identity are shaped by relations to ‘home’, degree and type of mobility, and national and ethnic positioning.  Second, I am investigating how policy imperatives and historical configurations of education shape the ways in which the concept of ‘elite education’ is being articulated, experienced and re-negotiated across different cities and parts of the world.

    I joined the University of Copenhagen’s Sociology Department in September 2018, having started my academic career at University College London (UCL). I was promoted to Professor at UCL in July 2018.

    Primary fields of research

    • Sociology of education
    • Elites and elite education
    • Internationalisation of education
    • Social justice in privileging spaces

    Current research

    1. Mobility, education and belonging – a comparative study of global professionals’ educational aspirations in four global cities

    Funded by the British Association of International and Comparative Education, this comparative pilot study brings together colleagues from Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv and London to study how globally-mobile professionals understand their identities, make education choices for their children and embed a set of familial practices in light of their significant physical and virtual mobility across the transnational space.

    This is the first of several publications emerging from this developing project:

    Yemini, M. & Maxwell, C. (2018) ‘De-coupling and re-coupling with the nationhood – Identities and parenting of the Israeli Global Middle Class in London’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, online 6 April 2018.

    Also a special issue of Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education (in 2019).


    2. The role of internationalisation in re-framing meanings of elite education – a de-stablisation or embedding of local and national relations of privilege?

    Working in collaboration with colleagues in Uppsala, Paris, Barcelona and Copenhagen, we intend to investigate how pressures to internationalise education at the secondary schooling level – from policy and dominant social groups – is being taken up by national and local governments, education institutions, and local communities.

    This book chapter frames the work that is forthcoming:

    Maxwell, C. (2018) ‘Changing spaces – the re-shaping of (elite) education through internationalisation’, in C. Maxwell, Deppe, U., Krüger, H-H & Helsper, W. (eds) Elite Education and Internationalisation. From the Early Years into Higher Education.  Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 347-367.

    This also links to a series of projects I am working in partnership with Miri Yemini and Laura Engel on, including a forthcoming book to be published with Routledge - Beyond the established boundaries: the machinery of school internationalisation in action.


    3. How does Bourdieu organises ‘knowledge’ that is generated about the field of elites and elite education?

    Using Correspondence Analysis and a qualitative thematic approach, I am working with Mikael Palme from Uppsala to understand who is ‘keeping company’ with Bourdieu in research on elite education. We are examining the poles that exist across patterns of co-citation, what is characteristic about the ways Bourdieu is used in these different poles, and what can this tell us about institutionalised ‘systems of knowledge generation’ that constitute this field of study.

    We have already presented this work at the International Sociological Association Conference in Toronto, July 2018; and at the London School of Economics in August 2018.


    4. Possibilities for social justice work in globally-located elite schools

    Together with Adam Howard from Colby College in the US, we are seeking to, despite the significant theoretical and practical challenges, work collaboratively with a small group of elite schools around the world to consider how social justice can be conceived of and promoted within privileging spaces.

    Our first publication eludicates our approach: Howard, A. & Maxwell, C. (2018) ‘From conscientization to imagining redistributive strategies: Social justice collaborations in elite schools’, Globalisation, Societies and Education, online 17 August.

    Our focus is, in part, on how Global Citizenship Education (GCE) is being taken up by these institutions.  My interest in GCE is also being examined through collaborations with Heela Goren and Miri Yemini in: a special Issue of the British Journal of Education Studies(2018, vol. 66, issue 4) ‘Global citizenship education in the era of migration, conflict and globalization’ and a recently published paper – ‘Religion, marginalisation and economic globalisation - Teachers make sense of global citizenship education in a divided society’ in presswith Comparative Education.

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