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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Dr Sol Gamsu

Gamsu, Sol (2016). Moving up and moving out: The re-location of elite and middle-class schools from central London to the suburbs. Urban Studies 53(14): 2921-2938.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper examines the role re-location has played in shaping the status of elite and middle-class schools in and around London. A Bourdieusian lens is applied to understand the institutional trajectories of 51 schools which moved from central London out to the suburbs and beyond between the 1860s and 1970s. It is argued that this strategy served to maintain, reinforce and create institutional prestige within the ‘field’ of schools serving the upper and middle classes. These re-locations have had a lasting effect on London’s school system, pushing key institutions of elite social reproduction outwards and away from the city centre. In discussing the motivations for re-location, Bourdieu’s (1996) theory of field and elite formation is used with specific reference to urban change, thus developing a Bourdieusian-historical approach to understanding the geography of social reproduction (Thiem, 2009). The focus on London also sets these re-locations in the context of broader socio-spatial shifts within the British upper and middle classes, in which new social formations were emerging, with an aristocratic-financial elite concentrated in the south-east of England (Anderson, 1964; Rubinstein, 1977). Re-location formed part of a broader process of urban and socio-economic transformation which created a powerful educational infrastructure for the upper and middle classes in and around London.