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Cosmopolitan Brands: graduate students navigating the social space of elite global universities

Myers, Martin; Bhopal, Kalwant


Kalwant Bhopal


Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of the competition for economic, social and cultural capitals within educational fields, this article reports empirical research from 49 in-depth interviews with graduate students at four elite universities in the USA and the UK. It argues the brands of elite global universities work to reproduce social and cultural capital for a small cohort of elite students, and by doing so perpetuate and reinforce systems that privilege a select few. By drawing upon student narratives, our findings demonstrate the cosmopolitan nature of elite university brands. These ‘Cosmopolitan Brands’ are immersed in local and highly exclusive practices which reinforce wider inequalities of social class. We explore how individual students navigate their immersion and positioning within the brands of global elite universities; competing first as students at university before progressing to compete for power and status within global economies.


Myers, M., & Bhopal, K. (2021). Cosmopolitan Brands: graduate students navigating the social space of elite global universities. British Journal of Sociology of Education,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 7, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2021
Publication Date Jun 30, 2021
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 31, 2022
Print ISSN 0142-5692
Electronic ISSN 1465-3346
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Series ISSN 0142-5692
Keywords Cosmopolitan Elite University Brand Bourdieu "Graduate Student"
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