Highly skilled international labour migration: a qualitative study of migrant Pakistani professionals in London's big four accounting firms

Rahim, Aisha (2014) Highly skilled international labour migration: a qualitative study of migrant Pakistani professionals in London's big four accounting firms. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Current Migration Studies literature in Europe can broadly be divided into two major strands. First is dominated by studies on the East-West migration of working class or asylum seeking, postcolonial ethnic groups and problems associated with their subsequent integration/assimilation into the host society. The second, more recent, strand of migration research is that of highly skilled professional migrants, usually hypermobile white men moving across highly-developed countries (for example within the EU), or from developed to less developed countries.This thesis aims to fill a major gap in the existing migration studies literature by focussing on a group of highly skilled Pakistani professionals. Based on a combination of participant observation and in-depth interviews with thirteen Pakistani male accountants and their partners in London, this thesis will explore their personal and professional lives in detail. In particular, it aims to compare this group with a) other highly skilled migrants in Europe and b) working class Pakistani immigrants who have dominated the migration stream to the UK. In terms of their social background, this group is strikingly different to the latter due to its urban, middle class origins where all men and most women possess tertiary level degrees. They do not follow the typical migration channel of chain migration to the UK and do not tend to live in ethnic clusters as other Pakistani migrants. Marital status sets them apart from European migrants of similar professional background.

The thesis shows that experience of working in the one of the biggest accounting firms in the UK is overall positive for many participants but the overemphasis on social skills over technical expertise in the firm’s appraisal system is a major problem since the centrality of drinking in after-work socialisation meant they could not fully participate in such bonding activities. This thesis also captures the life experiences of migrant spouses in terms of marriage, migration, children and “incorporation” into husband’s work. Last, the thesis explores the future aspirations of the participants which mainly include a long term plan of acquiring British nationality as the means to a more lucrative job in the Middle-East. The Middle-East as a permanent destination was considered perfect due to its booming economy, proximity to Pakistan (still viewed as “homeland”) and most importantly Islamic culture which was seen fundamental in upbringing of their children. However, some women were apprehensive of such a move due to the restrictions on women in some Middle-Eastern countries.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Holmwood, J.
Keywords: Professional employees, foreign workers, Pakstani, Accounting firms, England, London
Subjects: H Social sciences > HF Commerce
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 27838
Depositing User: Rahim, Aisha
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2015 10:31
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 04:19
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/27838

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